Is The Recent Protest Violence Linked To The Upcoming Delhi Assembly Elections?

The nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have affected the national capital of Delhi severely, but are these violent protests only linked to CAA?

The blame game of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) over violence and power play is known to all. In Delhi, the law and order come under the Ministry of Home Affairs which means that Home Minister Amit Shah controls the Delhi Police. This comes across as quite surprising that BJP MPs of Delhi are claiming that AAP is inciting violent protests in Delhi. The MHA should either take their responsibility or take strict actions against such MPs.

Allegations against AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan of instigating people to take the path of violence during protests should be properly investigated and if found guilty, then strict actions should be taken against him. In the same way, those who torched the buses should be investigated, too. The fresh allegations on Khan and considering his existing image (charges of assaulting the erstwhile CS Anshu Prakash) and other such charges) is a blot on AAP during the election season and they need to come clear.

It seems quite clear that be it AAP, BJP or INC or someone else but someone is using these protests for their personal agenda. Many videos have surfaced online where protesters were not even aware of why they were protesting. Though most of the people who are protesting are genuine and fighting for a cause, there is also a particular group of people who want to defame the protesters.

Scenes from an anti-CAA protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.

Not to forget that Delhi Election dates are expected to be announced by January 10, 2020 and the total process will be held by February 2020. This raises suspicions in our mind: are the violent protests which took place under the name of CAA politically motivated to divert the voter’s mind from the main agenda? Are the protests in Seelampur and Jamia an agenda to contest the elections on the name of CAA and communalism?

If we see closely, the latest statement by Amit Shah in Jharkhand election rally that the Ram Mandir construction will start in 4 months raises a pertinent question: is BJP  playing the religious sentiment card in the election, again?

Though, we saw that people of Jharkhand rejected this hate politics and BJP had a humiliating defeat in the state.

It is a matter of concern that the BJP which is taking all such actions on the name of fulfilling promises made in their election manifesto is not fulfilling its promise of giving full statehood to Delhi in spite of constant demand by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. It also took the ‘services’ of Kejriwal government by a Presidential order which was previously under the Delhi governments, a power of transfer and posting of officers, a power without which AAP government feels like a toothless tiger when it comes to handling officials, the power to hire, transfer, suspension and making a contractual employee permanent under Lieutenant-Governor (LG) which was earlier existent under Sheila Dixit’s government.

Delhi has 3 governments – the central government which controls the law and order via LG, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) (which is under BJP) and the Delhi Government that is the AAP government, there should be a concrete comparative discussion on each authority’s performance in Delhi, how much budget the Central government allocated for Delhi, how it was used by AAP, comparison between the schools under Kejriwal’s vs BJP’s MCD schools, the conditions of hospitals under these governments.

Also, the work of DDA, PWD, MLA’s of these parties for their respective constituency, the law and order of Delhi, measures taken by these governments to curb pollution and traffic jam and the work at grassroots level by councillors of these parties, these discussions will prove fruitful for the development of Delhi as this will make it a competitive market where Delhi BJP President Manoj Tiwari was forced to support the subsidy because of Kejriwal government’s successful freebie policies, though Tiwari criticised the current subsidy policy and promised a better subsidy under BJP government, at least he was forced to support subsidy. Now, the situation is such that no party will ever think of declaring no-subsidy electricity in Delhi.

At the same time, let us not forget that AAP MLAs are time and again accused of favouring a particular community, after the defeat in Lok Sabha elections of 2019, even in the statement of CM Arvind Kejriwal, the fact that Muslims shifted to INC at the last moment was not taken in good taste by anyone. Even Kejriwal has been accused of neglecting the case of Ankit Saxena. Due to his religion, he has faced similar allegations on many occasions.

Not to forget that INC is trying hard to gain a come back in Delhi Assembly, thus making it even more difficult to say, who is exploiting the protests for their own personal benefits.

Regarding the recent police brutality at many places including Jamia Milia Islamia, there is no point in raising a finger at protests. This should not be a hindrance to peaceful protests. AAP has good agenda to fight the elections, they have done a lot of work in their tenure, it might be the opposition is Delhi who is trying to malign the image of Delhi Government just before the elections to shift the discussion from work on education, water, electricity, etc. to protest and religion.

Now, it is in the hands of the Delhi voters to choose their agenda in the coming elections concerning the well-being of all citizens of Delhi.

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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.

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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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