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Here’s Who Suffers The Most Due To The State’s Failure In Understanding The Maoist Problem

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By Surabhi Singh:

Repeated massacres in the Naxal dominated area of Raipur and the phenomenal ambush of innocent lives have posed a challenge for the media to hunt for new meanings that would define politics here. While leaders cutting across the party lines remain devoted to the cause of grabbing power ruthlessly predominated by their individual lust and greed, young men run out of options to read meanings into their existence blurred by the gun powder and explosives at both sides of the line.

As DIG (SIB) Dipanshu Kaabra put it so eloquently following the Takabada massacre, “We are yet to gauge the extent of casualties in the entire conundrums of events. But, I would not deem it as a failure of intelligence. We are meeting the Head of the state to get further input into the crucial event.” The eloquence and the unabashed denial of any intelligence failure come really easy to those who have been stripped off of any accountability in our society that is increasingly getting tolerant of this raging bloodbath.

naxalismFormer Director General of BSF, EM Rammohan Rao has been in the war for too long to overlook the extent of damage it does to innocent people on both sides of the line. He asserts that the state government needs to delve deeper into the idea of Naxalism, rather than pump armed forces into the veins of the forests. In a recent interview to a noted electronic media platform he had stated, “A common man only takes up arms after he has been pushed too hard against the wall.” And this comes from a senior officer who has seen it all, heard it all and has understood the root cause – albeit without a political career ahead of him.

Even the entire security operation in the state is complicit and ignorant of the basic structure of a defence operation. The preliminary assessment may read routine statements of ‘Standard Operating Procedures (SoP) were ignored and forces had poor intelligence inputs.’ But shocker is that no IPS officer is commandant of the CRPF battalion, which has deployed over 20 battalions for Anti Naxal Operations in Chhattisgarh. IPS officers join the force only at the level of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) and upwards. Commandants are junior and are drawn from the CRPF’s own cadre.

It’s a brazen and glaring fact that corroborates well with the advice of senior officer from the Army Head Quarters, who bluntly had asked the former Union Home Secretary R K Singh, “Get your IPS officer to command the battalions and lead from the front instead of making them ‘babus’ behind their air-conditioned offices.

In an ironical coincidence, the three CRPF DIGs deployed in Maoists-infested districts of Chhattisgarh, which include Komal Singh, Dinesh Upadhyay and Pradeep Chandra, are not IPS officers.

Unwilling to be quoted, sources in Chhattisgarh Odisha Sub Area (COSA), one of the off-shoot of Indian Army Central Command which is involved in training central and state police forces for counter-Maoist operations in Bastar, pointed out that the CRPF and the central police organisations are not suitably trained and lack leadership skills at the tactical level.

The army’s advice also reflected in paper presented by a former army officer Brigadier (Retired) Rumel Dahiya, in 2012. Also Advisor (Net Assessment and Defence Studies) at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, Dahiya — the army backed think-tank Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) had wrote:

Presently the CRPF is employed in company and platoon lots and often attached to police stations or to the district police. There is no specific area of operations assigned to CRPF battalions under the command of their commanding officer. Companies are often commanded by inspectors (in case of today’s incident, one Inspector Subhash Kumar was leading team of 50) in their 50s who neither have the energy and stamina nor motivation to fight an invisible opponent with thorough knowledge of terrain and enjoying local support.” This then is the bleak picture of State Government’s boisterous fight against its own marginalised lot.

While the state machinery continues to remain in a self inflicted “Glory of Development”, schools come crumbling down, tribal girls are raped, their lands pillaged and their resources smuggled. At this time, a young villager finishes school and stares at an empty future lying ahead of him. After he fails to pay up the bribes at all the buffer levels of a white collar existence, he takes up arms to annihilate a whole bunch of youth who have finished schools and are staring at a dark future ahead of them – in a forest situated in the far corner of the country. They die and we count the bodies before we move on with our lives.

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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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