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I’m Only 14 And I’m Gutted To See The Political Blame Game Over The Amritsar Tragedy

More from Astuti Sinha

‘Dussehra tragedy kills 61’

‘Train from Amritsar slices through crowd’

‘Piyush Goyal rushing back from the US’

I was rudely interrupted while talking to my best friend Friday evening in the wake of this tragedy. We were talking about school as usual, when a news reporter announced the above headlines, with a clip of the incident along with it. I watched in horror as a train travelling at the speed of almost 68kmph literally cut through an entire crowd of people busy celebrating the triumph of good over evil watching the Ravana’s effigy burning about 70-80 meters away. I dropped my phone in shock. How? What? When? My mind was overflowing with questions about this horrific incident like-

1) How did the festival organisers lay the effigy right next to an open track?

2) Why was the track unprotected and unfenced?

3) Who let the people line up on a live railway track like it was some art gallery?

4) Were the railway officials sleeping or on Dussehra ki chutti?

5) If the effigy was being built for so many days (which is obvious considering that the Ravana was quite tall!) then how could no one notice the danger?

6) How could the driver not see all those people? No attempt was made to warn the people on the track by honking or applying emergency brakes, even though the people standing there were bathed in light!

Ministers now are saying they’ll give a total of five lakhs as compensation to the affected families ( the value of human life is now only five lakhs, this is for all you readers to know!) and how people will be “rescued”? Excuse me, I beg your pardon Mr. Minister, but people were crushed within seconds! There is nothing left to “rescue”.

Innocent people have been butchered by a speeding train driven by a careless driver. Who is to be blamed? Let us list out possibilities-

1) The railway authority- Why was the track unprotected? Who gave the green light signal to let the train pass by when people were covering the rail line?

2) The event organisers- Why was the effigy built so close to the track? Why didn’t anyone notice the danger?

Of course, in my country, all that will happen now is politics. 60+ families lost their loved ones, few will get a sum of five lakhs, and everyone will forget about it within a week.

I am a die-hard patriot, but events like this have shaken me to the core. Little Asifa, the atmosphere of hate politics in the country, and now this.

Is this what the great republic of India stands for? Is this what our freedom fighters died for?

I am only 14, and witnessing what my nation is going through is painful for me. In these fourteen years, all I have seen in a country that I am ready to die for is rapes, unsolved court cases, even kidnapping of one of my relatives!

Why are politicians dividing my brothers and sisters on the basis of their states? Aren’t we all sons and daughters of the same mother, mother India?

Thinking about the families of people affected by this accident has reminded me of my brother who works in the merchant navy. So, every time he goes for work, he is gone for seven months or so and that separation is unbearable for me.

Now let’s look at it this way- what about a girl who lost her brother in this train mishap? Who will she talk to when she feels low? Who will she go to at Raksha Bandhan? Whose arms will she run to after a breakup? All that remains of her brother is the cut up body parts… I have tears in my eyes just imagining it. Think of a weeping mother or father. Think of a little girl or boy who lost his or her parent. An innocent, blameless child is sentenced to a life of only half affection of a parent. What about relationships out of the family? A friend, or coworker or lover? How would you feel if they just suddenly disappeared?

What you are imagining right now has become a reality for someone out there, just a few thousand kilometres away.

What about the people inside the train? How would they feel knowing that their train journey cost someone their life? They’d be scarred forever. Anytime they’d travel ever again; the incident would haunt them.

We need to change.

Our government needs to pay more attention.

The railway authorities need to wake up!

If not for each other, then at least for Bharat Mata, for Hindustan, for mother India…

Jai Hind

Vande Mataram

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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
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