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Feeding The Separatists Who Utilize The Weakness Of Our System

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By Kunal Anand:

Delhi witnessed a bizarre event on October 21st. A seminar titled “Azadi: The Only Way” organized by Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) had Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the anti-India activist (she ceased to be a novelist long back) Arundhati Roy amongst its list of “distinguished” speakers. Amid tight security, the seminar gave a platform to these two “proponents” of Azadi to do what they do the best — spew venom against India. Only this time they forgot that it was not some pro-azadi rally in Kashmir or a Pakistani city where people revel in such fantasies. As soon as they started abusing India, a group of activists rushed to the podium and almost came to blows with the organizers. They fittingly waved the Tricolour to give Geelani a taste of India’s mood.

Before you conclude about who these protesters were and zero down on RSS or some other favorite whipping boys of the media, it must be known that these people were a group of Kashmiris who have been displaced from their homeland due to militancy (and not due to Indian Security Forces as Geelani would like you to believe). After the opposition questioned the motive behind allowing such secessionist events in the heart of India, Home Minister has assured that proper actions would be taken after analyzing the recording tapes. [the tapes are with YKA and will be published soon]

Geelani and Roy boast themselves to be the champions of the “Kashmiri Cause”. Yet, neither of them extended any kind of help to the victims of the disastrous Leh floods. I can understand Geelani’s mindset. He is a Pakistani supporter who long ago lost any kind of influence on the Kashmiris and is now ready to stoop low to any extent to get that back. So, it’s quite understandable that a “Buddhist Leh” and a “Hindu Jammu” doesn’t fit in his Kashmir portrait.

But what about Arundhati Roy? What started with some anti-national columns in a few magazines has now spiraled into a full blown anti-India rhetoric! She says her only demand is justice for the poor tribal but she doesn’t want to be a mediator between the Maoists and the government. She says Kashmiris have the right to choose whom they want to stay with but she turns a deaf ear to the millions of Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims whose heart and soul is entwined to India just like any one of ours.

I read some of her vitriolic articles in Pakistani newspapers (they are usually applauded there first before a few pseudo-activists publish them in India). But I have never ever read an article from her depicting the plight of poor Balochs massacred by the Pakistani army in Balochistan. Aren’t they human enough to have human rights? She can lambast India in Delhi and Lahore. Why does not she talk about the attack on the peaceful Ahmadiya community in Pakistan, the Shia-Sunni strife in Karachi and the poor tribals of North Waziristan who are being prosecuted at the hands of the government and the Talibs? A lion roars whether in a jungle or a cage. Those who whimper at the prospect of being challenged about their legitimacy and the prospect of being kicked are dogs. Roy knows that one statement about the rights violation in Pakistan or China can make her a fugitive in these countries.

But there’s no point in blaming these people. They are just utilizing the weaknesses of our system. Does the largest democracy in the world need to prove its legitimacy by turning a blind eye to such anti national forums and people? When Geelani was dying of kidney failure, the J&K government paid for his treatment at a private hospital in Delhi. It would be foolish to think that such poisonous minds can be cleansed by such tokens of generosity. What is needed is a zero tolerance approach to any activity that threatens the integrity of India, be it “Azadi” seminars or “Temple” agitation. We have come a long way as an independent country in the last 63 years. We can’t let it all go because a dying 80 year old Pakistani supporter or a dysfunctional Booker prize winner who thrive on our leniency think that the idea of Indian federation is a hoax.

P.S: SM Sahai (IG Kashmir) has an official page on Facebook. He interacts with people and also answers their questions. I too joined it and was appalled to see people calling him ‘kaafir’ and questioning his religious beliefs. I posted a comment on his wall supporting him on his endeavor of bringing normalcy in the valley. A guy by the alias name “Aayat Resurrected” replied: “@kunal- Hind kuta, Hindu kuta, Bharat kuta and tumhari Bharat Maa kuti.Read it here.

I read it, smiled but didn’t reply. A person who doesn’t have guts to use his real name while putting forth his ideas doesn’t deserve attention. “Aayat resurrected” is not the guy representing Kashmir or Muslims of India. He is a part of that miniscule minority that refuses to understand that India — and Indians have moved on and refuse to indulge in anything that will make them look remotely similar to their failed neighbor Pakistan. Kudos to Mr. Sahai for not deleting a single hate comment. I request the readers to join his page. Let him know that he isn’t alone in his Himalayan task.

Editor’s note: We want you to support our voice, we want you to voice yourselves. The event that the author talks about was also an event attended by two other YKA correspondents who will be sending a comprehensive report shortly. The minds of Kashmiri youth have been played with, are being played with. We must rise against the voices that spread the venom.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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