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

We Need To Contain The Hatred That Is Spreading Across Jammu And Ruining The Legacy Of Peace

More from Aseem Sundan

A lot has happened in the last few years in the country, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. I am unable to let go of the image of it all happening in my backyard. My home which I used to think was free of all malice. My house, where things were not as complicated as elsewhere. My home, which I thought was the safest place in the world. People at my home, all of whom I used to think were humble, homely, simple people with simple worries in life. Like making sure their children get into good colleges and what to wear at the next nephew’s wedding. I don’t know why but I want to talk about my home today, and it’s people. Maybe it is abreaction of some sort.

Earlier this years, in Kootah village in Kathua District of Jammu, an eight-year-old girl was brutally raped and murdered. Later people and politicians from my state defended the accused. Rallies were taken out in support of the accused, and attempts were made to turn it into an issue for political gains. As a kid, I remember visiting there for various family functions, pujas, death rituals and get-togethers. As kids all of us cousins would relish going there because of the feeling of togetherness and because we would all ask our Baba Ji (my grandfather) for Rs 5 each and rush to the village market where we would buy various kind of churan packets, imli and cheap unwrapped orange sugar candies kept in those glass jars. Babaji always gave my sisters some extra money “my little sparrows are special” he’d say. It used to be all the more beautiful because of all the commotion of people in our rustic village home and because sometimes we got to sleep on the terrace where stars used to twinkle at us. Whenever someone asks me how Jammu is, I have a perpetual reply “It’s simple, pure, beautiful, everything is uncomplicated, and people are so humble and modest.”

Living away from home, that is so simple and beautiful, and facing hardship and chaotic lifestyle for mere survival you start realising the significance of simplicity in life. Whenever the world around me gets too much to take, and I cannot fathom cupidity, lack of sympathy, dirty politics around me, I close my eyes and think of my Home. That road in my village which leads to the market, the umpteen number of trees and mountains which appear snow studded on the horizon from the terrace of my home. It has almost become a ritual.

It’s not just the place my grandfather lives, his stories, his lessons and every little detail about his personality and social engagements defined Jammu as a place to me. Fakar Deen a hilarious, well-built Gujjar man was one of my father’s subordinates, who used to work at our home. He used to take care of me when I was young, and my mother and father went to their offices. He was also one of my first friends, and I remember playing cricket with him as a kid. On Eid, he would get us a Desi Murga (Country Chicken) which my grandfather would later dress in the backyard and cook it. It used to be a delicacy. My uncles would all come to our home and relish the chicken. They’re all simple people who go to their offices, love good music, enjoy a couple of drinks and well-cooked meat. They all love their wives and children more than anything in the world. They never lose their newspapers and hold their possessions and values dearly. Whenever I hear Kashmiri or Dogri, I immediately feel a breeze of the same simplicity of home. They all seem the same.

My Father like my grandfather used to, takes a lot of pride in the fact that there has hardly been a Hindu-Muslim riot in Jammu post-partition and how safe it is. I have learnt to do that too, growing up I barely knew the difference between various religions and differences between people of different faiths. Amid a lot of mantras and bhajans “Ishwar, Allah tero naam” was sung to me by my mother growing up. Whenever we crossed any Masjid, Mandir, Gurudwara or Church all of us had to join our hands and close our eyes for a moment, it was a ritual, and we had to do it.

Lately, I have been thinking about this folklore that all the children born in my part of the world have grown up hearing a countless number of times. “Jammu gets its name from a King named ‘Jambulochan’. According to legends, when he was travelling from Jammu, he saw a Tiger and a Deer drinking water together from the Tawi river. He was so awed by this scenario, that he decided to establish his empire here.” There can not be a single person back home who hasn’t heard this folklore from their elders. Or maybe I am wrong about everything. Or perhaps people have just forgotten the story now. Maybe it’s meaningless to them.

Recently, I tried closing my eyes to think of home and feel the same peace, but I couldn’t. It felt like a flood of guile and fanaticism was flooding my country and I was ignoring it by thinking of my home up north. But now the floodgates have been opened, and the ghostly waters have reached my house too. I now realise that these waters of hatred need to be contained. Otherwise, we’ll all lose our homes, the legacy, love and teachings of our elders. I don’t know how exactly we can do it. Maybe that simple gesture where we used to join our hands and close our eyes in front of every holy place of every religion, this simplest basic gesture is what we as a society need to revisit and realise who we’re and who we need to be. Maybe, we need to revisit the story of the tiger and the lamb on the shore of Chenab, so we can close our eyes and think of our home and feel tranquillity and not desolation in our hearts.

You must be to comment.

More from Aseem Sundan

Similar Posts

By Sahil Razvii

By Munazah Shakeel

By Munazah Shakeel

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