This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“They Threw Me On The Road And Dragged Me By My Hair”: How Filing An RTI Almost Cost Me My Life

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Urmi Rupa Pal:

On the morning of 21st June 2015, Sunday, three young men came to our house in Burdwan and informed us that the Ward Councilor has demanded to meet us regarding the RTI we had filed about an illegal construction on the wetland adjacent to our house. My father and I went to meet the Councilor, and saw a mob of 25-30 people waiting for us along with the Councilor.

What happened next was beyond our worst nightmare.

The councilor threatened us that if we wanted to live in that locality we would have to withdraw the RTI. When I objected to this they started beating my father holding him by his collar, as he fell down some men started to kick him on his chest. When I screamed and tried to save him, four men grabbed me and lifted me from the ground. They twisted my arms, took my cellphone away, thrashed it on the road, stole the memory card and stamped on the phone. They threw me on the road and dragged me by my hair. They kicked me on my right shoulder and on my stomach. When I tried to stand up they kicked me again. One of them grabbed me by my bottom and tore my leggings. As I screamed for help the Councilor asked the goons to teach me a lesson and kill my father. At last someone turned up to help and shouted at the goons. He handed me my broken phone. My father and I ran for our home. But, the ordeal did not end there. The Councilor gathered more people. They chased us home and tried to break in while continuously making indecent gestures at us and shouting “let the girl out and let us do an ‘RTI’ of the girl”. For forty-five minutes they vandalised our garden, broke our windows, and kept banging and kicking against the collapsible gate. They kept calling for shovels to break the door open and get me out. My mother had sent me upstairs, where I locked myself in and tried to call the police. As I did not get any response from 100, I called my colleagues and seniors.

broken phone
“They took my cellphone away, thrashed it on the road, stole the memory card and stamped on it.”

Why were we attacked on the main road in broad daylight in a meeting with our Ward Councilor? I work for a University Press and my parents are retired teachers. We have been living in this locality for 22 years and have done more than our fair share for the community. My father would religiously attest documents after documents for the locals when he was a Lieutenant with NCC. We would take part in all the important meetings and assemblies in our locality.

What went wrong was the fact that I have been fighting to save a wetland that belonged to the University of Burdwan for some time now by writing to people and collecting local support. The University had setup a board declaring the wetland to be the selected plot for an upcoming officers’ residence. After I had submitted a deputation collecting signatures from local residents to the VC, I came to know that the Botanical Survey of India had signed an MOU with the University to protect that same ecological zone. The VC said to the press that no concrete structures would come up in the area at the cost of wetlands and the University would take responsibility in protecting the flora and fauna of the region. The University decided to give a boundary to the wetland and in the process the contractors filled up a considerable portion of the wetland. Then, new construction started in the plots adjacent to that wetland, using the already filled up portion to transport raw materials.

When my father notified the VC, the University acted and closed the gap in the boundary wall, which stopped the easy access to raw materials for the workers. These upcoming constructions are not adhering to municipality laws. They are blocking the natural drainage system of the area, which is how the locality has flushed ever since it was inhabited. My father submitted an application to the municipality asking for help. Then he gave them a reminder as well. On getting no response, he filed an RTI on 15.06.15.

Two days after the attack, we moved to our relatives’ place in Kolkata for a period of three days. My parents and I could not bear the trauma anymore. While there, we received information that those miscreants, who attacked us on 21st June, were trying to plant false evidence at our home. We intimated the local PS, who sent a patrol and ensured us that things were under control. They requested us to come back to our home. When we came back day before yesterday, we saw that some more windows had been broken during our absence.

We are living in fear and pain while the culprits are still roaming free. How do we protect ourselves and the wetlands that belong to our community?

You must be to comment.
  1. Abhi

    Don’t know how come the information regarding who has filed the RTI gets leaked. This is not the first time where a person lodging the RTI has been threatened there are cases where they have been killed.

    RTI was another way of govt to get hold of strong persons who wants to stand against the system and clean them all in a swipe, so that the govt can continue doing their bad deeds without any hindrances.

  2. Ramesh Kumar

    Release the name of the councilor and his address. I’ll deal with him once and for all.

  3. Mishra

    Why isn’t the name of councillor mentioned in the article?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Vaishnavi Rai

By Gunjan

By Deepali Saxena

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below