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“The Indian Police Has Had A Long History Of Custodial Deaths”

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TW: Violence, assault, police brutality.

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the basic structure of our society. We have been made aware of certain potholes that malign humanity. The death of George Floyd created much furore against racism and police brutality. People from different countries raised their voice and demanded justice for George Floyd.

Many regions share this problem, where the cops get brutal during interrogation. Indian cops are a step ahead of many. Though the cases of police brutality are not new, the COVID-19 pandemic has somehow highlighted the brutal behaviour of Indian cops.

The news of a father-son duo dying due to police brutality in Tamil Nadu has only added shame to India’s Police administration. It was reported that Jeyaraj and Bennix were arrested by the Tamil Nadu police, allegedly for not following the lockdown rules. It was alleged that the victims were thrashed by the police while in custody.

According to a Chennai based news portal, eyewitnesses have also claimed that the father and son were allegedly sodomised while in custody. They have also claimed that after Jeyaraj and Bennix were released, blood was flowing through their rectum.

As the news is reaching the masses, people are demanding justice. Just like many other countries, the Indian Police has had a long history of custodial deaths. The situation is frightening and the unscrupulous behaviour of the administration needs to stop. In most cases, the policemen involved are either left with a warning or transferred, or suspended for a short time. No legitimate and strict action is taken against them.

Since the issue of intolerance of Indian cops is being discussed, here are some instances where the mercilessness and cruel side of the Indian police have been seen.

December 15, 2019, Jamia: Every student studying in the Jamia Millia Islamia University can’t erase the memory of being treated as prisoners, and thrashed like terrorists. Amidst the anti-CAA/NRC protests, the Delhi Police entered the University campus and threw tear gas shells at the students. They later vandalised the library and mercilessly beat up the students studying there.

The CCTV footage of the reading room and library displayed how the cops were manhandling and beating students. The entrance of the police from the backside raises many questions. It was reported that they did not enter from the main gate, and took the backside entry instead. No police officer is allowed to enter the campus without the permission of the authorities. The Proctor and V.C clearly denied giving them any permission.

Despite this, the cops thrashed the students. They hit them and did not spare anyone. The whole nation had only one question in mind: What was the fault of the students who were studying inside the library?

Delhi police attack unharmed students in and around Jamia Millia Campus. Image credit: Twitter

Muzaffarnagar, December 2019: The Telegraph reported on the atrocities that were inflicted on the Maulana of a Madarsa located in Muzaffarnagar. This violent incident happened on December 20, 2019, after an anti-CAA protest happened in the city, nearby. Soon after that, the 66-year old maulana was dragged out of the Madarsa and beaten with a baton. He, along with almost 100 students, was arrested.

It was reported that the cleric was severely tortured in the custody. He was stripped and beaten on a spine-chilling winter night. The students are also reported to have suffered rectal bleeding along with other wounds. The cleric’s family refused to talk to the journalists claiming that the police will come and vandalise their houses.

Lockdown 2020: Human life has been paused by the pandemic. In order to prompt the Indian citizens to stay indoors, the Indian cops adopted a rather cruel and inhuman manner.

A video from Bareily was circulating on social media, in which a 12-year old kid kept sobbing as he was beaten up supposedly by the UP cops. It was heartbreaking to watch the complete video. The cops had mercilessly beaten him as he was trying to sell fruits so he could support his poor father. It’s distressing to imagine how heartless the police have become.

This is not it, many such incidents have occurred. We watch the videos, listen to the news, empathise with the deceased and then simply forget all of it. The administration has terribly failed us in this realm.

The lack of coverage on the Jeyaraj and Bennix case, and the silence of the administration, are evidence of the serious potholes the country’s governance has. Such brutal incidents need to stop. The interrogation should be done keeping humanitarian grounds in mind. Any police officer, who is seen manhandling the general public, should be questioned and punished.

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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, 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.

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