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Amid Reports Of A Terror Threat, Anxious Kashmiris Preparing For Eventualities

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An Indian army soldier stands guard on a road on the outskirts of Srinagar, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

A heightened threat perception has begun to affect routine life in Jammu & Kashmir, amid an increasing presence of the Indian armed forces.

Earlier this week, the Centre had deployed 10,000 additional troops in the conflict-ridden state, IANS reported, and on Thursday, 25,000 more troops were pressed into service. On Friday, the annual pilgrimage of Amarnath Yatra was curtailed after a landmine and a sniper rifle was said to have been found on the route.

Ali Mohammad Bhat, a 65-year-old shawl weaver from the old city area of Srinagar, has been busy stocking up groceries, milk powder and medicine in his home. With the air of uncertainty and anxiety looming large, he wants to be prepared for any eventuality. He’s not alone. Grocery stores, ration depots and fuel stations in Srinagar are witnessing an unusual rush of people since the Centre has fortified security in the state.

Multiple government orders were uploaded on social media last week, suggesting major unrest could be in the offing. The visit of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, deployment of thousands of troops and presence of security forces at sensitive places like radio and TV stations are being viewed as a precursor of something untoward. There have been reports that Pakistan is planning a major offensive in Kashmir ahead of India’s Independence Day, on August 15. “There is precisely something big going to happen,” Bhat told 101Reporters.

On 1st August, Army chief General Bipin Rawat arrived in Srinagar to review security preparations. Requesting anonymity, a police officer told 101Reporters that the situation looks like preparation to tackle a major incident. “We have been instructed to stay alert. That is all I can tell you. Kashmir is a place where anything can happen any time,” he said.

Independence Day preparations are in full swing in all government schools and colleges. While educational institutes remain open, parents are being cautious and not sending their children to schools and colleges. “I am a medical student and for me, practicals are an important part of my curriculum. But the current situation is so tense that my parents have asked me not to go to the college for a few days just to be on the safer side,” said Rahila Muzaffer, a college student.

Politicos react

Peoples Democratic Party leader Khurshid Alam said that while Kashmir has been witnessing uncertainty for the past three decades, never has the situation been so precarious as it is now. “There is panic among the locals. The government is duty-bound to come clean on it. You cannot play mind games with your own people,” he said.

Similar concerns were expressed by former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah. “What “ongoing situation” in Kashmir would require the army AND the Air Force to be put on alert? This isn’t about 35A or delimitation. This sort of alert, if actually issued, would be about something very different,” he tweeted.

A former independent legislator and senior leader of Peoples’ United Front, Engineer Rashid, criticised the Centre’s handling of the entire situation. “The government has to explain why it is creating a fear psychosis in the peoples’ minds,” he told 101Reporters.

The Hurriyat Conference (G) issued a statement, “In response to the global concern about the gross human rights violations in the state, India has been hit very hard diplomatically. It is out of frustration that they are creating fear psychosis and a war-like scenario.” The Hurriyat spokesperson said that instead of war-mongering, India should take concrete steps to de-escalate the rising tension because their recent stand-off with their nuclear-armed neighbor after the Pulwama incident has been bone-chilling.

Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said he has no clue about what is happening. “There is confusion, which creates panic. But whatever will come has nothing to do with the Kashmir issue. Nothing will have any impact on it,” he said.

[With inputs from Junaid Nabi Bazaz and Safina Nabi]

Originally published here

The Author, , is a member of 101Reporters

Featured Image credit: Kashmir Global/Flickr
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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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