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Opinion: Why We Cannot Remain Silent About Swami Chinmayanand’s Case

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To,

The Respected Leaders of  Young India, and the Dearest Leaders of one of the largest democracies of the world,

I am writing to give you a wake-up call. I am writing to appeal to you to react and respond. I am writing to request you to allow your stimuli to generate reflex action against the extreme sensations of disaster, inhumanity and injustice.

Before moving ahead, I would like to state that I assume, each adult Indian irrespective of caste, creed, sex, gender, religion to be a leader of their choices and actions. I call out to each  changemaker, change agent, role model, popular icon, political leader, teacher, leaders of government, non-government, corporate, co-operative, partisan and nonpartisan institutions to respond. I call out to all the student leaders, to all the society leaders, to all the activists across fields and boundaries locally and globally. I request you to wake up.

Dear Leaders, I feel ashamed to write this. This time, my nation’s law and order, the judiciary system shames me less than the non-reactive state of our media houses, social account handles and activists. I can’t resist my mobile not flooded with notifications with the Chinmayananad case. I can’t resist my national media news houses not running this news. I can’t resist not seeing #WeWantJustice trending. I am ashamed of media houses for choosing business over human rights, justice and sustainability. I am ashamed of wondering “Why would they run a low TRP and high-risk news” to justify our act of not choosing this news over communal and India-Pakistan debates? I am sorry, I am ashamed of the most important tool of democracy.

Further, I also seek answers from the organisations working on gender-based violence, rape survivors and safety of women, for their absence and non-response from this whole case. I question the conscience of the activists. I question the death of emotions of the law students, of every other student irrespective of gender, caste, creed and religion. I question the non-informative, un-updated walls of the political leaders in this case. I question the unraised voices which were heard loudest during Nirbhaya rape case. I question the non-trending of the hashtags by the highly recognised digital media campaigners. I question the undistributed soul of every human. Are you unaffected or over-disturbed due to which you fail to respond? I question the silence of the politicians, who were similarly silent during Nirbhaya, Unnao, Kathua and now in this rape case.

At that time, too, the global visits and appearances of the leaders and an effort to build a communal angle out of the story was visible to counter the quest of seeking answers. I question the Hindus about the purity they have achieved for the coming Navrataras through their ignorance to this and by not discussing rape, not seeing viral videos of Chinmayanand demanding massages and sex. I question the marchers: are they done with their candlelight vigils, with raising their voices, and the garlands? Do they need me to raise funds for the same? Do they need crayons to write posters, do they need money to charge their internet packs and collect themselves to raise their voice for justice? Or, do they want me to raise funds to sponsor this story as well, and do paid promotion?

I question the double standards visible in handling rape accused Chinmayanad on the one hand and the alleged rape survivor on the other. I am afraid even to imagine how this attitude of ours will end up turning this rape survivor into a rape victim. I fear to imagine a state where her will to seek justice dies. I hate, absolutely hate, to go back and re-think about Unnao victim and imagine the consequences of this case on similar lines. I fear more voices of survivors and victims dying under the threat of power and authority. I fail to understand the politics behind silence. But let me tell you, I don’t accept your silence!

Picture credit: author

If the voices raised during the Nirbhaya case can mark the beginning of the exit of the then-ruling government, then why the silence at the time of Unnao, Kathua and Chinmayanad rape case? Have the voices also learnt to serve those in power and authority? Will the leaders only respond on borders through violence? I fear to be a generation who will be carrying the burden of a nation torn apart due to uncontrolled and even appreciated violence. I fear to lead a women rights movement of the era, where the onus is on reproducing more to make and rebuild nation again—as we will have to compensate for the loss of male lives in the form of soldiers at the border. A movement of the era, where the burden to overcome the whole socio-economic crisis due to disbalanced sex ratio post violence will be on us, the women. Well, that’s something less frightening for humans with dead emotions.

It’s beyond their capacity—which is badly under control of power and authority—to think about this, let alone expect a reaction. But, I still demand you to think! I demand you to be pro-active. I demand you to be a conscious citizen. I demand you to behave like humans.

Many of you will question why I am not coming out with an answer and starting with the loudest voice and bravest act on my own. To which, I would like to share that I identify myself as the one who will support you till the end but needs you all to start with. I identify myself with the middle-row crowd, who stays for the last, never changes its position and is not there for media coverage and fame but themselves. I need your support.

I also want to remind the youth about our rights. We have the right to ask questions; you have the right to hold the leaders accountable for not answering us! It’s my right to ask questions, and it’s their duty as the leaders of this democratic nation to answer my questions on double standards and misuse of power, law and order. The ongoing silence and delay in justice are disappointing and depressing.

I won’t explain the whole case here because it’s your task to stay informed or build pressure on the institutions whose job is to help you stay informed. Nor will I take any stance based on the recent developments in the cases. All I know is that Chinmayanad accepted that he is ashamed of his actions. The latest developments in the case are indeed debatable and can lead to various opinions. All I want is justice for the victim of the crimes admitted, as well as for those which have neither been denied nor admitted by him.

I request all humans to stand for a fellow human. I request you to be human for all. I request you to go beyond your interest and comfort zones. A nation of wise human leaders has become a distant dream, which was once a reality. It’s sad, but dear leaders of the present and future generations, it’s the purpose of your existence and the task at hand.

I want to thank the handful of responsible leaders who keep instilling their voices to this case and sharing the required information.

Indians, humans, wake up! React, respond! I will not accept your silence! I want to hear voices for justice!

 

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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.

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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 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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