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“Jamhooriat, Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat”: What Does India Actually Mean By This?

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By Aamir Wani:

There was an alliance of Islamic parties called Muslim United Front which contested the Kashmir assembly elections in 1987. What happened in 1987 was something that hit Kashmir like never before. These were the same elections after which scores of young Kashmiris crossed over to Pakistan to receive arms training and start a full-fledged armed rebellion against Indian rule in Kashmir. Now what actually happened in the 1987 elections?

On March 23, 1987 state assembly elections were held in Kashmir. The main parties and alliance contesting elections were the Indian National Congress (INC), National Conference (NC) and Muslim United Front (MUF). Congress was the party from the centre and NC having strong links with centre were contesting against MUF. The leader of the MUF was Mohammad Yusuf Shah. His election manager was Yasin Malik.

Despite it being MUF’s debut, it was predicted to do well in the elections.  Soon, it became clearer that the centre might lose its political control over the state if MUF rises to power and therefore, the centre allegedly rigged the elections and announced National Conference as victorious. During the initial results, MUF was coming out as victorious on many of the seats but before the final results came in, the government felt threatened and snatched jamhooriat away from the Kashmiri people and named Farooq Abdullah as the Chief Minister.

This made the Kashmiris in general and MUF in particular lose all hope in Indian jamhooriat. Yet, worse was still to come. After naming Farooq Abdullah as Chief Minister, government started arresting MUF leaders and putting them in jails. Scores of MUF leaders and supporters were arrested including Mohammad Yusuf Shah and Yasin Malik. Both of them after feeling betrayed by the jamhooriat crossed over to Pakistan. This betrayal changed Mohammad Yusuf Shah into Syed Salahuddin and went on to head the Hizbul Mujahideen. Yasin Malik went on to head the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front.

It is widely alleged that the elections were rigged and Farooq Abdullah himself confessed it in an interview once and said, “I am not saying the elections weren’t rigged. But I didn’t rig them.” Alleged rigging of the elections led to militancy in Kashmir. The Kashmiri youth having lost faith in the jamhooriat was pushed towards militancy. In the following years, hundreds and thousands were killed, a large number of people even disappeared. A study by Medecines Sans Frontiers has revealed that every second individual in Kashmir is mentally disturbed. This is the price Kashmiris had to pay for believing in the Indian version of Jamhooriyat.

When the Indian government and anyone else talks about jamhooriyat, insaaniyat and Kashmiriyat, what jamhooriat are they referring to? The one that was shown to us in the 1987 elections?Rather than showing remorse over the crimes committed against Kashmiris, the government made things even worse by brutally suppressing the voice of Kashmiris every time. The people in uniform who murdered innocent Kashmiris are given impunity under draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which have no place in jamhooriat or insaniyat. These laws give such powers that even if an armed force personnel is suspicious of someone, he can fire upon the individual, without fear of being tried in any court of law for his actions. Now this is some insaniyat, isn’t it?

Hundreds of torture cases at the hands of Indian armed forces have been reported but no accused has ever been held accountable. Alleged mass rapes such as Kunan Poshpora took place where the Indian army raped many women in the village. Many documentaries have been made, many books written on this this but has any justice been given?

In the agitations of 2008 and 2010, hundreds of protesters were killed. Many of them were not even protesting. Even if they were protesting, what kind of Insaniyat allows you to shoot a teenager who may have been throwing stones? Now in the present uprising, the same insaniyat is being repeated by killing and blinding the children of Kashmir. People like Reyaz and Shabir were not even protesting and yet they were killed by the so called ‘security forces’. Insaniyat was expressed by the CM Mehbooba Mufti when she justified these killings by saying that those who have been killed by bullets were not out to buy toffees or milk.

So, let the government come clear about what kind of insaniyat and jamhooriat it is talking about. Because India has failed Kashmir at both insaniyat as well as jamhooriat and these words for Kashmiris when said by India are nothing more than hawaniyat.

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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 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.

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