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‘Anti-National, Urban Naxals’: The Target Of All Chargesheets Of The Past Year

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Trigger warning: Mentions of rape, caste-based violence

A charge sheet in the Delhi riots case has been filed, but contrary to our expectations, the rabble-rousers in the streets whom we all saw in our drawing rooms on our TV sets have not been named. Instead, the opposition leaders, parties and minority organisations found mention on the chargesheet. Although unanticipated, the anti-CAA protestors were named as perpetrators.”Victims” and “perpetrators” became synonymous. Not only that, the ante of foreign money and foreign hand was brought up.

A look back may help us understand things in perspective. Even before the charge sheet was filed, there were speeches and Whatsapp forwards from people close to the establishment about the nefarious designs of the anti-CAA protestors, minority organisations and even a foreign hand in orchestrating the riots and absolving the familiar rabble-rouser we saw on our TV screens making incendiary statements of any wrongdoing.

The charge sheet sought to make those Whatsapp forwards from void rumours to a true solid investigation. However, it may seem like deja vu, but those parties and organisations that were named in the charge sheet have been getting called “anti-national, urban naxals” for the past four years by the ruling circles. The chargesheet only packed this a legal envelope, thus starting the “international conspiracy” motive to show India in a bad light.

The NIA arrested three people from West Bengal, and that too from a minority dominant district, claiming an alleged link with the Laskar-e-Toiba. This was flouted for being the first such arrest to be made in Indian history. The ruling party leaders at the Centre were quick to declare West Bengal as a hobnob of terrorists as if persons with an alleged link with terror have been arrested for the first time arrested.

Picture courtesy Google .
Sit-in protest at Shaheen Bagh.

What was intriguing was that according to the NIA, there was a link between the terror-accused people to more people in two other states. Names of those states need not be anybody’s guess — Kashmir and Kerala. The links of the puzzle is becoming interesting, isn’t it?

Then there is the Hathras gangrape — a story of a cover-up unfolded in the TV screens across the country. The police burning the corpse of India’s daughter without the permission of her kith and kin. The mother could not bid her child the last goodbye. Excuses for not following law and order were given. What good is for the state to keep a police force that cannot guarantee law and order, and protect the rights of the victims’ families. If in the name of ensuring law and order, the police does an illegal, unconstitutional or inhumanitarian job, then is it not better to save taxpayers’ money by shoving the police force?

Next, we saw the same police force who cannot ensure the life of a girl and rights of victims’ family getting up for making the village a fortress so that media and opposition leaders need not enter their bastion. Such was the autocracy. Every sane mind would have pitched the whole incident as failing in law and order, acting unconstitutionally with the state government.

Any compassionate government would have acted on its own failings, but this government thought it otherwise. The UP government, though acted like a snail in the Hathras rape case, was very swift and aggressive in its stand against “conspirators violating the peaceful atmosphere.”

Instead of taking action against its own officials for covering up the case and denying justice, the state government decided to go “as you like it” by calling for action against these mythical conspirators. Once said, it’s done. Meanwhile, while this hollow drama was unfolding, the UP police brought out their innovative investigation skills and named opposition leaders, opposition groups and some media personnel, while the real perpetrators of the Hathras incident sought justice for the victims, blaming instances of incited violence and a vitiating atmosphere.

And guess what? The individuals accused of inciting violence also belong to minority communities or from the left political spectre. And yes, again, the hand of foreign was found. Far from a solid investigation, the Hathras incident became a mythical conspiracy. The same argument of an international conspiracy behind it became the premise of the brutal rape. Justice had a wild laugh.

However, the question remains: since when did exposing caste cruelty and oppression become an incident of inciting caste violence? Or is it because caste oppression in India is just a myth that international conspirators have invented?

Photo: @ambedkariteIND

Another question that remains: who brought the ruling dispensation in a bad light — the officials who gave bizarre statements day and night, oppressed the victims’ family, curtailed the rights of the victim’s family to cremate their loved one and the media, and unlawfully took the rights of a family to cremate their loved one or those messengers who ought to bring to light this complicit behaviour of the state?

Another burning question remains:

If the ruling dispensation, with its majority in the Parliament and a majority in the state, is not able to throttle the hands of international conspirators and their allies (media, opposition leaders), then what will this dispensation do to save our country from external aggression?

If only a small group of opposition leaders and media, whose number can be counted on our fingers, can bring such havoc to the country and inflict riots and violence right under the nose of such majestic power, is the country really in safe hands?

Words of caution to all conspiracy theorists:

Remember that this international conspiracy made Indira Gandhi’s government to impose emergency, which the current dispensation proclaimed to have fought for.

The two most intriguing parts in these three cases are the identity of the perpetrators — minorities, opposition politicians, left-leaning anti-nationals and urban naxals mostly having link in two Indian states, i.e. West Bengal and Kerala — and the international conspiracy — including mention of foreign money, foreign hand-gulf or our common enemy or punching bag, Pakistan.

Doesn’t this look too scripted? Isn’t this too predictable to guess for the next time?

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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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