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Kejriwal, Tharoor And Other Political Leaders Come Together To ‘Stand With Najeeb’

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Najeeb Ahmad, a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, has been missing for the past 20 days after a scuffle between him and some members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in the University’s Mahi Mandavi hostel on the night of October 14. The administration and police have been accused of not taking sufficient action. The people involved in the events of that night are allegedly not being interrogated. Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union, many students of the hostel and even the JNU Teachers Association have alleged that Najeeb was physically assaulted and communally targeted by ABVP members. However, ABVP members have a different version of what happened that night and have accused JNUSU of politicising the matter. The only response from the University’s administration came three days after Najeeb went missing, in the form of a press release which branded Najeeb as ‘the accused’ even when there was no proof of what had happened that night. Due to the alleged inaction, various protests have been going on across the country since then.

Even on Diwali, many JNU students refused to celebrate; some even held a protest and lit up candles asking for justice for Najeeb.

In the light of all this, a public meeting was held at JNU’s Freedom Square on November 3 where various politicians from different political parties, professors and students came together to stand in solidarity with Najeeb’s family.

Before the event started, Saurabh Sharma, former Joint secretary of JNUSU said in a Facebook post, a conspiracy similar to the February 9 incident could be identified in this issue too and said that he and members of the ABVP would appeal to the administration to cancel the event as they believe that it’s a ploy to politicise the event further. Earlier in the day, the administration reportedly appealed to the students to stop protesting near the administration building. “Despite all efforts, pamphlets, posters, demonstrations, dharnas, unlawful confinement and offensive sloganeering have been going on to spread lies and to blame the administration and make unreasonable demands. Attempts are being made to disturb the normal functioning and conduct of academic activities including examinations,” the appeal said.

Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor said, “We are all here because something wrong has happened. And not enough is being done to right that wrong. We demand a thorough search, serious investigation in this matter. Those who have let this happen should check their conscience.” He also requested for a serious investigation that is independent of the college authorities and also questioned why the Delhi police and the Vice-chancellor did not search the campus immediately after Najeeb’s disappearance. Najeeb’s mother broke down during his speech and said, “Itni badi university hai, koi toh bata de mera Najeeb kaha hai.” (It’s such a big university, someone tell me where my Najeeb is.) After all that has happened, she said that she has lost faith in the University. All speakers promised her that they’d do everything in their power to find Najeeb.

Kavita Krishnan, the secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, also expressed her anguish over the Vice-Chancellor’s reaction. She said that the VC is very selectively active in voicing his concern and was quick to express his anguish on Twitter when the effigy burning incident took place last month but didn’t even acknowledge that a student has been assaulted in spite of the fact that various witnesses have come forward to vouch for that.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal gave a fiery speech and blamed ABVP and BJP for the current situation; saying that the ruling party isn’t loyal to anyone. He urged the students to take the matter outside JNU and protest at India Gate and said, “Jab poora desh ikatha hoga tab hi Najeeb waapas aaega … kal ko ye kissi ke saath bhi ho sakta hai.” (Only when the entire country gets together, will Najeeb return … tomorrow this can happen with anyone.) He assured Najeeb’s mother that he would do everything in his power to help Najeeb come back.

Prakash Karat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) targeted the RSS and BJP by saying, “The regime is out to suppress democratic rights and civil liberties.” He accused the Delhi Police of taking orders from the RSS. He said, “All higher education institutes are coming more and more under the control of the Central government … something worse than the emergency is taking place in this University. Now continuously there’s interventions to destroy the very ethos of this University and what has happened with Najeeb is most disturbing.”

All the speakers supported the protests and have promised their full support for finding Najeeb. Other speakers included Mani Shankar Aiyar, professor Manoj Jha, professor Nivedita Menon and members of various student political parties. The event also saw students shouting slogans against the administration and politically charged posters.

Image Source: Najeeb Ahmed/ Facebook
Image Source: Youtube
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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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