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

Remembering A Radical Voice Of Assam That Fought State’s Atrocities

At a time, when a section of the nation is condemning the recent arrests of human rights activist, let’s remember and recall a radical voice of Assam, who had been a victim of being speaking the truth to the power. Parag Kumar Das spearheaded the fight against the state machinery with radical and alternate political thoughts. Perhaps he was a victim of his own words as once he had quoted that “Indian State Machine cannot give you justice if you are a common man” and his death was a proof of the fact that a criminal cannot provide justice for the crime he/she has committed himself/herself. His death had weakened the democratic outcry for sovereign Assam. His death was an attempt to suppress the thoughts of self-dependence and the dream of actualising freedom and right of everyone.

Parag Kumar constantly fought against the gross violation of human rights in the state of Assam. His conflicts with the Indian state dates back to 1989 when he had started his radical Assamese Weekly- Boodhbar (1989).  He was the founder secretary of the regional NGO MASS (Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti).  He along with a group of intellectuals and group of journalists had set up the NGO in 1991 after the counterinsurgency Operation Bajrang launched by the Indian army in 1990 to crush the pro-independence armed outfit of Assam. The Operations Bajrang and Rhino were launched after the federal rule was completely imposed on Assam and a regional party who was thought and expected to be sympathetic to the ULFA was dismissed in 1990. He established the organisation to fight against the extraordinary empowerment of Indian army through the enactment of a draconian law like AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act. During that period the Indian army had acted in cruel ways. Army’s midnight raids in the villages still terrify many in the state. Within a short time after the formation of the organisation, Parag Kumar Das had gathered substantial public support against the blatant human rights violation by the Indian armed forces.
And consequently, he had become a household name in the decade of the 1990s. He continued and extended his revolutionary approach by organising another magazine called Agan in 1994. In 1995 he joined as the Executive Director of the Assamese Daily Asomiya Pratidin after resignation from the Guwahati Stock Exchange. He was one of the few persons who showed the bravery of exposing the anti-social activities of the group called SULFA (Surrendered ULFA). Till date, only a few have emerged who had demonstrated the courage to raise their voice against the anti-social activities done by this group. Parag Kumar Das had fought against the violations done by India’s formidable state machinery.

His dream of a better and free space (Assam) was shuttered down on May 17. 1996 when he was shot down by four gunmen pumping 13 bullets from their AK-47s into his body, and ironically this incident took place in broad daylight. Since then 21 years have passed, but the state machinery has failed to provide justice to this bereaved soul. Like Gauri Lankesh he used his pen to fight continuously against the manufactured traditional system and corruption. He had always advocated for freedom of speech- which is unlikely in India if your so-called freedom of speech does not match with the vested interests of the state. Because of his radical voices, he had been arrested once in January 1992 under the National Security Act, and once in 1994 under the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Provision Act (TADA). Das had authored many books of radical ideologies and thoughts like Swadhinatar Prastab (Proposal of Independence), Nisiddha Kalam aru Ananya (Banned Pen and Others), Ami Ji Kotha Koisilu (Things we said), Rasthradohir Dinlipi (Diary of Anti-State). The names of the books itself represent the ideology he had inked.

The four gunmen who were accused of shooting Parag Kumar Das were Mridul Phukan (alias Samak Kakati), Diganta Baruah, Tapan Dutta (alias Biswajit Saikia), and Nayann Das (alias Guli). Three of them have died so far, but ironically none have been convicted for his murder. And on July 28, 2009, the only accused (Mridul Phukan) left was acquitted due to lack of substantial evidence for a murder which happened in the broad daylight.

With his death, Assam has lost a faithful son, a true journalist, a person advocating for radical thoughts and alternative way of politics, and most importantly someone who had always inked things from people’s perspective to fight against the injustice done by the state machinery.

Aniruddha Bora, is M.A in Social Work in Children and Families from TISS, Mumbai and is working in Public Health Resource Network. 

You must be to comment.

More from Asom Aniruddha

Similar Posts

By Manya Srivastava

By Priya Prakash

By Karun Lama

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, 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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below