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UP Sees Multiple Cases Of Violence During The Recent Block Panchayat Polls

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Zila Panchayats – (75)

BJP – 65

SP – 6

OTH – 4

Block Panchayat – (826)

BJP – 626

INC – 5

SP – 98

OTH – 96

Much concern has already been expressed at the excessive violence and intimidation witnessed in the recent block pramukh elections of Uttar Pradesh held on 10 July.

However, attention also needs to be drawn to the curious fact that even before voting took place, Bharatiya Janata Party-backed candidates had already been declared elected unopposed on 334 seats out of the total 825 block pramukh seats in the state.

In other words, even before a single vote was polled on 10 July, as many as 40% of the total number of seats were safely in the control of BJP supported candidates.

Why did such a large number of seats remain uncontested in a state of such high levels of politicisation and such intense political rivalries, with many parties in the running to gain a dominant or important position in this politically most influential state of India, which will also be holding crucial assembly elections early next year?

And why would as many as 334 out of 349 uncontested seats have BJP supported candidates as uncontested winners? Here it may be pointed out that no direct voting by people takes place for block pramukhs. Instead, they are elected indirectly by a relatively small number of block council members who people have already elected.

Sixty-eight nominations were rejected and as many as 187 candidates took back their nominations.

Coming To The Violence

Violence erupted on Thursday in at least 12 UP districts during the filing of nominations for block chairman elections with Samajwadi Party and BJP cadres clashing with crude bombs and bricks and a shocking video emerging on social media of an SP-backed candidate’s proposer being pulled by her sari by two men in Lakhimpur Kheri.

While nomination papers of candidates were torn in Unnao, Etah, Siddharthnagar, Lalitpur and Lakhimpur Kheri, crude bombs were hurled and bullets flew in Sitapur and heavy brick-batting was reported in Kannauj.

In Jhansi, SP workers accused BJP leaders of forcibly stopping them from filing nominations. And hours after the SP worker was manhandled in Lakhimpur Kheri, a sexual harassment case was filed by police. The woman was a proposer for the SP candidate, whose nomination papers were allegedly torn.

Additional director general of police, law and order, Prashant Kumar, said that minor clashes took place in 14 places and all district police chiefs had been told to act against lawbreakers. “Adequate security along with a company of women cops have been deployed at all sensitive polling centres and videography and surveillance is being done with drones,” said Kumar.

Sitapur district magistrate Vishal Bharadwaj said that a man was rushed to Lucknow hospital with bullet wounds during the filing of nominations at Kasmanda. “Four persons have been detained. A probe is underway, and an FIR would be lodged,” he said.

In Bahraich, SP candidate Devendra Singh and his supporters stormed into the nomination centre at Nanpara and clashed with cops in which a constable suffered injuries. SP Bahraich Sujata Singh said that an FIR was registered against five people and 60 members of the Samajwadi Party.

In Etah, lawlessness prevailed at Marhara block. Nomination papers were snatched from Samajwadi Party candidate Guddi Devi which triggered off violence and several policemen were injured in the standoff. In Lalitpur, too, BJP workers allegedly tried to snatch the nomination papers of an SP candidate.

While in Kannauj, a TV journalist was assaulted while he was on his way to file nomination, SP candidate’s nomination paper was allegedly snatched in the presence of former Speaker Mata Prasad in Siddharthnagar.

Similar incidents were reported from Unnao’s Nawabganj area, where SP members alleged BJP cadres tried to snatch their candidate’s nomination papers.

In Chitrakoot’s Manikpur, SP members alleged that BJP cadres stopped their candidates from filing nominations. In Banda, a minor scuffle broke out between rivals and in neighbouring Jalaun, BJP workers engaged in a verbal duel with police.

At Powai block of Azamgarh district, BJP workers allegedly attacked the SP candidate, while in Sant Kabir Nagar’s Belhar block, former SP minister Laxmikant alias Pappu Nishad along with candidate Rikeshwar Rai clashed with BJP workers near the nomination centre. As a result, Rai suffered injuries during a police crackdown.

Police chiefs in all districts said they were probing cases of violence and FIRs would be registered.

“हिंदू खतरे में नहीं

लोकतंत्र खतरे मैं है

भारत की आजादी खतरे मैं है”

it is much clear that now your Universal Right to Contest in elections does not even exist.

Featured Image via flickr
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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)’.

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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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