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In Photos: The Horrific Reality Of Tiger Attacks In Sunderbans (And Why They Happen)

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By Suman Das:

Hungry and thirsty tigers are a growing threat in Sunderbans. In a tussle over land, the fiery beasts are now attacking villagers who enter their forests for crab hunting, fishing and wood. Global warming has led to an increase in the tiger-man conflict in the area. Especially since the water level has risen 45 cm increasing the salinity content in Sunderbans forcing the tigers to move closer towards the village.

As agriculture and fishing become increasingly unviable in the islands due to natural calamities and salt water ingression, a sizeable number of farmers in the Sunderbans have become migrant labourers. For those who could not migrate, the only available options are fishing, hunting crabs and collecting honey from the dense mangrove forested area – all occupations that pose immense threat to their lives.

Jayanta Pradhan

45-year-old Jayanta Pradhan is the resident of Baikunthapur, Maipith West Bengal. He and his partners went to the river side for hunting crabs when he faced a sudden tiger attack. His partners saved him, and he survived even though he got 50 stitches on his right ear. Jayanta Pradhan says “I cannot hear through right ear anymore.”

old photos of Jayanta Pradhan
Madhu Dutta

Madhu Dutta, who was attacked by a tiger in the rice fields at her village Kishorimohonpur in the year 2001, says “The tiger entered the village, we all tried to scare it away, but the tiger bit my right arm.”

Madhu Dutta
Lata Jana

In 2011, Lata Jana, wife of Satyabrata Jana, went to the river for fishing and was killed by a tiger at the age of 52.

Nepal Adok
Adok shows his bruises

Nepal Adok (60) went to the forest for collecting woods and was attacked from behind. He, his wife Jamuna and their granddaughter in the picture. He still hears the roar of the Royal Bengal Tiger. “The tiger was dragging me to the core of the forest, and I was praying and telling myself ‘seshe amake bagher kache morte hobe, vogoban amake bachao daya kore’ (Finally is this my end? In the mouth of a tiger! Please God, save me).” Adok further adds that this was when the tiger suddenly left him to go away and luckily he escaped from certain death.

Nepal and Jamuna Adok with their grand-daughter
Radheshyam Mandol (52), another victim of a tiger attack.
Aminul Molla

Aminul Molla (55) who cannot speak properly because of the injury he incurred when a tiger attacked him in 2010. In the photo above he is showing the scars on his face and chest.

Aminul Molla
Sandhya Bhunia with her son, Bappa’s, voter id
Bappa’s mother is in tears seeing an old photo of her son.

Sandhya Bhunia, mother of Bappa Bhunia, who was 22-years-old when a tiger killed him. Bappa’s mother broke down seeing her son’s picture. “He went to the forest on Saturday with 20 people including his three brothers to hunt some crabs, and he returned in the evening completely fine. But the next time he went to the forest he did not come back. Bappa’s wife Rakhi Bhunia was taken away by her family and was forced to marry again after his death” said the grieving mother.

Sandhya Bhunia reminisces about her son
Father Subal Singh holds his deceased son Prabin Singh’s photo

A tiger killed Prabin Singh, who went to hunt crabs in the river. It was only later that Subal Singh found his son’s wounded body. He is survived by his wife Chandana Singh and her two sons Subrata (ten) and Sanjay (six).

Chandana Singh with her sons Subrata (ten) and Sanjay (six)
Khudiram Naskar

Khudiram Naskar (65), was yet another crab hunter who was attacked by a tiger.

Khudiram Naskar
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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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