#Chhattisgarh- Village woman uses web portal to protest “dress code” imposed by caste leaders #Vaw #Kractivism

, TNN | Oct 25, 2012, 12.44PM IST

RAIPUR: A powerful Other Backward Classes(OBC) community in Chhattisgarh has imposed a ‘dress code‘ on women to force them to wear saris in a particular way in the village of Panditarai in Ambagarh Chowki block in Rajnandgaon district, sparking protests from the females.The issue came to light after a woman, who identified herself as Jayanti, raised the issue through ” CGNet Swara“, a voice-based portal, freely accessible via mobile phone, which allows anyone to report and listen to stories of local interest.

“Local Sahu community has imposed a dress code for women. Anyone disobeying the code will have to pay a fine of Rs 501 as punishment,” Jayanti pointed out expressing her protest over the local community leaders decision to impose the dress code.

Jayanti told TOI over telephone that the local Sahu caste leaders convened a meeting of men and conveyed that all women folk must wear sari in traditional form in which the “pallu” should be on the right shoulder, fully covering the naval portion. She said the local caste leaders were now exerting pressure on men to force women to follow what they term as an age-old tradition of the community. “I have no idea about such diktat. Sahus belong to a progressive community which believes in women’s freedom and their right to choose their dress,” Community’s Rajnandgaon district president Moti Sahu told TOI over telephone.

Sahu Samaj state vice-president Shantanu Sahu said they were not aware about any such diktat by the local leaders in the village and would certainly inquire into it.

Adivasis under attack from the State

Dear friends

Tribals in Chhattisgarh are violently oppressed by government. The state of Chhattisgarh has been reeling under the effect of the undeclared civil war between the Naxalite insurgents and the government authorities. The word Naxalite is used to describe militant communist groups operating mostly in the eastern states of India. The plight of the exploited and dispossessed adivasis gave the Naxalites the perfect situation for starting a communist revolution. As the Naxalites slowly began perform the roles the government was ideally meant to perform, they began to gain the sympathy and support of the tribal people. In the last ten years however, the movement has moved away from guerilla warfare for the rights of tribals and natives and has mostly become anti governmental in nature.

In 2009 the Indian Government initiated the Integrated Action Plan which was to include funding for grass-roots economic development and special police funding for better containment of Naxalite influence in states like Chhattisgarh, However, instead of providing any relief to the villagers, the police have only added to their miseries. The Kalar and Gond adivasis of the tiny village Kadegaon have been the latest victims of police atrocities reports Bhan Sahu, Community Correspondent from Ambagarh Chowk district, Chhattisgarh.

Bhan is a social activist who focuses on mobilizing villagers and raising awareness, and uses video to advocate the rights of tribal people, As Bhan speaks to villagers, they describe how, one early morning, they had gone to gather their harvest and used an old red sari as a marker. This innocuous sign convinced the police that the villagers must have been Naxalites and without bothering to ask any questions, indiscriminately opened fire. They later rounded up the villagers and beat them mercilessly, keeping them in custody in their camp. The villagers were finally released at night.

Bhan goes on to tell the story of a young girl, Jayanti. It is a common practice for the children to bathe near the fields before preparing for school.. The police had been marking those very fields and the villagers were unaware of that Jayanti was in the fields collecting her clothes along with the other village children when suddenly the police opened fire. Jayanti was hit in her womb by a bullet, as a result of which, she will never be able to bear children, Jayanti has since been paid one lakh INR as compensation by the government and a team from the police gifted her family a television set. However, that cannot hide the fact that no action has been taken for the irresponsible behavior of the police. Says Bhan, “It is time the external police forces were removed from these villages. The local cops are good enough for us. Instead of feeling protected, the villagers are, instead, terrified of all the extra police around. They are too afraid to return to their own homes after dark!

Watch the Video here

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