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How loopholes in government’s policies are failing the acid attack survivors

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Acid attack victim
Acid_attack_victim
Representative Image

 

By Purnima Pahuja

Geeta was only 22-year-old when a miscreant threw acid on her face after she objected to his sexual advances.

“After such an incident had happened in my life, no one came forward to help me or support me except my mother. I know that nobody has a perfect life, but after whatever happened with me was not the life I ever wanted. I was discarded by the society. And now I want to scream to the world and say that yes, even I can live a normal life like you and even I stand the same in the society as you,” says the acid attack survivor Geeta Lodhi, who is now 37-year-old and works with an organization called Stop Acid Attack which helps acid attack survivors live a dignified life.

Geeta’s story echoes the tale of the many acid attack victims, who face partiality in the society and struggle to pay for their medical support.

Due to the lack of government aid, most acid attack victims find it difficult to pay for the medical assistance which involves plastic surgeries, says Geeta.

Recently, the Central government had announced about the free medical treatment and compensation of Rs 3, 00,000 to the survivors, but this policy has technical flaws.

Though the government has decided to provide the aid, it has not designated any specific body to look after the issue. The survivors do not know where to go and ask for relief.

“In April 2013, the amendments made by the J.S Verma Committee made acid attacks an offense, stating both medical attention and compensation must be given to victims, but it did not specify the type of treatment or the amount of funds to be given,” says Ashish Shukla, an active member of the campaign group Stop Acid Attacks.

According to a Home Ministry report, there were 309 acid attack cases reported in 2014 compared to 66 cases in the previous year.

The rise in number of cases highlights two key points. First there are no strict laws in the country to deal with acid attackers, and second, there are no regulations to deal with the sale of chemicals.

“Acids are being used as weapons, and there is a need of a separate law to deal with the sale and purchase of chemicals which include neat hydrochloric and sulfuric acids also,” said an active member of the campaign group.

 

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Undaunted Initiative by tribal women for forest preservation in Muturkham, Jharkhand

Muturkhum forest saved from deforestation and exploitation under Timber mafia due to collective efforts of tribal women

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forest under the threat o deforestation in Muthurkam saved by tribal women. pexeby

8th Nov, 2017, Jharkhand:Armed with just water bottles and sticks, a group of poor tribal women in Muturkham village of Purbi Singhbhum district of Jharkhandtrekked miles to the sal forest that surrounded their habitat. Their mission: To save the forest from being plundered and denuded by the “forest mafia”.

Accompanied by just a dog for their safety, these determined women made frequent forays into the deep forest — with which they shared a symbiotic relationship — and have been able, over the years, to successfully conserve 50 hectares of forest land and its flora and fauna deep in the heart of a territory that has also been a battle zone between government forces and left-wing extremists.

This group was brought together by Jamuna Tudu, 37, who has spent the last two decades of her life fighting against deforestation. It was in 1998, after her marriage, that Jamuna took up this challenge of preserving the forest by making villagers develop a stake in it.

 

orest saved from deforestation by tribal women in Muturkham. pexeby

Today, her Van Suraksha Samiti (Forest Protection Group) has about 60 active women members who patrol the jungle in shifts thrice a day: Morning, noon and evening. And sometimes even at night, as the mafia set fire to the forests in random acts of vandalism and vengeance.

Jamuna’s fight has not gone unnoticed. The President of India has honoured her conservation efforts.

“Few days after my marriage, when my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and a few other women from the village took me to the forest to cut wood and get it to cook food, I felt that if we keep cutting the trees this way, all our forests will be wiped out,” Jamuna recalled to IANS in an interview.

In her quest, she had to battle against the mafia that was chopping down trees for their precious sal timber with complete disregard for the law or the tribal tradition that prohibits cutting of the trees.

Realising that she would get little help from authorities, who may well have been hand in glove with the mafia, she took matters in her own hands. She spoke to a few women of the village who were quite aghast at the task she had taken on. We won’t do it; this will require us to fight the men in the village, they told her.

But Jamuna, who has studied up to Class X, foresaw a bleak green-less future for herself and her community with no trees and forests to sustain or protect them.

‘Jungle nahi rahega toh paryavaran kaise bachega (how will we protect the environment if the forest is destroyed)?’ she asked.

Jamuna’s clear understanding of the issue soon trickled down to the other women and even men in her village.

“I was brought up with a love and respect for nature. My father used to plant numerous trees in our farms in Odisha. That’s where I learnt the importance of the environment,” she said.

Pointing out how the mafia was exploiting the wood from Muturkham to fund their alcohol needs, she said she was bewildered by the passive response of the community at their habitat being slowly destroyed.

“I went on to speak to a few women in the village. I held a meeting with them several times to be able to convince them that we needed to protect our beautiful forests,” she said.

Gradually, she mobilised a group of 25 women from the village and armed them with bows and arrows, bamboo sticks and spears, they marched into the forest to take on the forest predators.

With time, many men also became part of the campaign against deforestation, but most of the effort has continued to be from women, said Jamuna.

There are many daunting challenges that came their way, but their single-minded dedication towards their cause kept them going.

“There were too many altercations with the village people initially.. many scuffles with the mafia… and I told those women that in this journey, we would come across both good and bad times, but we have to struggle to keep the forest,” said Jamuna.

The group convinced the railway authorities to bar the plundered wood from being exported.

“Some time in 2008-09, we were brutally attacked by the mafia,” she said.

“They pelted stones at us while we were coming back from the railway station after speaking to the station master. Everybody got injured,” she added.

For obvious reasons, Jamuna, the woman whose initiatives were hampering their business, was their main target. She and her husband suffered most in the assault.

“My husband got hit on his head as he tried to save me. It was dark and we somehow managed to run away. We narrowly escaped death that day.” But she did not give up.

Over 15 years of many fierce encounters with the mafia and relentless sensitisation of the community, Jamuna, and the Van Suraksha Samiti that she formed, have succeeded in protecting and conserving the 50 hectares of forest land not just surrounding her village, but around many others as well.

Tribal communities cannot survive without wood. They need it for various things — mostly to cook food. But they ensure that their requirements remain within sustainable limits.

“We don’t cut trees on purpose any more and use the fallen trees and branches for all our needs,” Jamuna said. “The amount we are able to save up during the rains is sufficient for the whole year.”

The Forest Department has “adopted” her village, which has led to Muturkham getting a water connection and a school.

In 2013, Jamuna was conferred with the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award in the ‘Acts of Social Courage’ category and this year in August, she was awarded with Women Transforming India Award by the NITI Aayog.

Today, she runs awareness campaigns through various forest committees in Kolhan Division. Around 150 committees formed by Jamuna, comprising more than 6,000 members, have joined her movement to save the forests.

She wants to do a lot more. “I wish to do a lot… to make a lot more difference, but I am bound by limited resources. I can’t in many ways afford to go beyond the villages in my state.”

But if I get more support, many more forests like ours can be saved, she declared.

(This feature is part of a special series that seeks to bring unique and extraordinary stories of ordinary people, groups and communities from across a diverse, plural and inclusive India, and has been made possible by a collaboration between IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Mudita Girotra can be contacted at mudita.g@ians.in)

 

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Muslim Man Divorces Twelve Wives, Murders the Thirteenth; How Safe are Married Muslim Women under the Religious Law?

How is the government planning to protect the married Muslim women in the country, who are often desolated by their husbands?

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MUSLIM MAN
How safe are Muslim women? Wikimedia

Uttar Pradesh, October 9, 2017: Whoever said the number thirteen is unlucky was right. A horrific case of a Muslim man brutally murdering his wife has now come forward.

According to reports, police have arrested Mohammad Mustkeem, a resident of Raebareli, a small town in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh after he allegedly murdered his 13th wife.  While cases of murders within marriages are not new, this particular case is extremely peculiar.

Mustkeem is a practising Muslim and had been married thirteen times. While he had divorced all his former twelve wives, the thirteenth wife was cruelly hacked to death.

The victim and Mustkeem had been married for over four years and also had a three-month-old child. However, the two were believed to fight a lot, because of which Mustkeem had been contemplating another divorce.

But before the 13th divorce could happen, the victim went missing, which created alarm in the Pure Kale Khan locality in the district. Upon search, her body was recovered from the fields near Chulamau village in the district.

According to the police, the victim’s body bore several injury marks that indicate that she had been tortured and strangled to death.

Consequently, the police arrested Mohammad Mustkeem on charges of murdering his own wife.

While no official information has been obtained as of now, locals believe Mustkeem was planning to re-marry for the fourteenth time and had even sought a bride.

While we condemn the victim’s murder, the case involving Mustkeem and his multiple wives has once again brought Triple Talaq under the spotlight, which had been rife in the country till the past few weeks.

Before the verdict was announced on the declaration of Triple Talaq as unconstitutional, census figures revealed that for every Muslim man divorced in India, four Muslim women had been previously divorced. This is also evident from Mustkeem and his former 12 wives.

As per the law, Muslim men could divorce their wives for any possible trivial reason. By contrast, the woman was expected to almost always avail the husband’s consent for a divorce. This robbed women the right to have a say, and to have a secure livelihood and instead granted men the permission to blatantly indulge in matrimony, which is evident from Mustkeem’s life.

While a constitutional ban on the practice has gathered mix responses, the question remains how the change will seep down to the very roots of the society. And how is the government planning to protect the married Muslim women in the country, who are often desolated by their husbands? Until then, cases like Mustkeem and his twelve divorced wives can be expected to continue making headlines.

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David Frawley Highlights PM Modi’s Respect for Indian Culture which Pandit Nehru nearly Gave Away to the Marxists

"Delhi elite, which though located in India, kept their minds residing outside the country."

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PM Modi and Indian Culture
David Frawley is the Director of American Institute of Vedic Studies. Wikimedia
  • Nehru had affinity with Communists and Marxists
  • Politically independent India continued to be dependent on the west for intellectual progress
  • Nehru and his followers rejected India’s past and envisioned a different nation away from its important culture

August 22, 2017: India’s culture has been its representative in the global arena. The cultural background of the country can be traced back to thousands of years. The Vedas, written thousands of years ago, still dictate our lifestyle and thoughts.

But this remarkable cultural heritage was infused with Marxism and Communism by India’s leftist leaders. David Frawley, in his recent article, traces the impact of leadership on Indian traditional culture.

But, Pandit Vamadeva Shastri also known as David Frawley- the Director of American Institute of Vedic Studies observes how the exclusive Indian culture was outsourced to the left by Pandit Nehru. “Congress outsourced education and cultural development to the far left, Marxists and Communists, with which Nehru had much affinity,” says Frawley in his website vedanet.com. Nehru was vocal about his different idea of the country that goes away from its genuine culture. Nehru, along with his followers, rejected the Indian past.

Also Read: Padma Bhushan David Frawley points out Christian Missionaries’ assault on Hindu Dharma

Although the country had become politically independent, the intellectual progress continued to be dependent on the west, courtesy of the “Delhi elite, which though located in India, kept their minds residing outside the country.” Traditional Indian culture was criticized by these very people.

Indira Gandhi cannot be said to have continued this trend, but she too “supported the same westernized elite for whom Indian civilization was a dangerous myth to be eliminated for modern progress,” writes David Frawley.

Dr. Frawley also highlights that the influence of Marxism on Indian education was known to very few people in the West. Additionally, the West was also unaware of the socialist stand of the Indian economy.

It was the RSS through the expression of BJP that sought to retain Indian values and culture. But the efforts proved futile as it was perceived backward and antique to stick to Indian cultures. As David Frawley rightly observes, “Much of this was owing to Marxist propaganda that has always demonized its opponents, which the Congress dominated media gladly followed.”

There was hope in 1999 when BJP took the power through PM Vajpayee, but not much changed in the mindset of the nation. Rather, “India fell back into the old leftist rule with a vengeance and a massive corruption and nepotism under the UPA in 2004 that continued for ten years,” notes Dr. Frawley.

The 2014 elections saw the formation of Modi government in India. India’s new leader, Narendra Modi, came to national politics with “the power of vision, personal charisma, a forward development agenda and tremendous work to usher in a new India.”

Modi envisions a technologically advanced India through older Indian ethos. The PM plans on introducing “social media, cashless society, smart cities and a radically improved infrastructure.”

David Frawley acknowledges Modi’s love for Indian traditions. The PM has come up with a lot of programs to help the poor masses of the country. “He is not afraid to be a Hindu or to attend Hindu functions, while at the same time excelling as a modern technocrat,” explores David Frawley.

Modi’s beliefs in Hinduism are not confined to sectarian thoughts, rather, a broad spiritual pursuit of “Yoga, meditation, universal consciousness, and self-realization.”

David Frawley believes that humanity can be inspired through a renovated and revitalized India. The Nehruvian idea of India is slowly dying as PM Modi builds a competitive India in sync with its traditions.

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter @Saksham2394


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