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Indo-Canadian students to protest in support of JNU

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Toronto: The University of British Columbia’s Indo-Canadian students, faculty and the staff will be holding a rally in solidarity with the Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) on March 3 in Canada according to a media report.

“As you already know many central universities are under brutal attack from the BJP-led right wing government in India. Rohith Vemula, a bright PhD student of the University of Hyderabad who belonged to Dalit community, was victimised, harassed, and thrown out of the university which ultimately forced him to take his own life,” The Voice quoted an email by a student as saying.

“The students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi who led a big student movement against the institutional murder of Rohith are now facing a deadly onslaught of the state — its entire student’s union and leftist leadership booked under the draconian sedition charges,” the email added.

“Its President Kanhaiya Kumar was almost lynched in the court premises by fascist hoodlums in black coats in full public view, and in spite of a huge police presence that refused to act,” the email noted.

The email said that the university would celebrate the day as “International Support Day for JNU”.

Hundreds of universities, public intellectuals, human rights organisations from all over the world have raised their voice in support of the JNU students and teachers, the report said.

Recently, students, including Indian-Americans, from New York University (NYU) and the Cooper Union college in New York gathered at Washington Square Park to support JNU Students Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar and other students who were arrested on sedition charges last month.

An Indian-American student said during the protest that the primary purpose of the event was to raise awareness about Kumar’s arrest.

“[Kumar] was arrested for making these comments against the government, even though he was not actually saying anything against the government, he was just having this poetry reading,” Anjana Sreedhar said.

“We are protesting against the fact that he was arrested under the sedition law which is very antiquated and very outdated,” Sreedhar added.

Sreedhar, along with several other students read English transcripts of Kumar’s speech during the poetry reading and asked if his words warranted arrest. They also encouraged passersby and attendees to attend a forum discussion at the Cooper Union next week.

A student activist at the NYU Sumathy Kumar said she attended the rally because she wants to show her support to the JNU students who were “beaten and arrested and so much violence was being committed against them just for speaking out”.

Anthropology professor Tejaswini Ganti said that she was glad students were voicing support for JNU’s students and that universities should be an open forum for all opinions — even those that dissent against the governing party.(IANS)

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  • P. B. Josh

    In JNU students’ support, these students should show to India and the world by shouting exactly similar slogans for ‘Canada Ki Barbadi’ and ‘Canada Ke Tukde Tukde’ and show how strong Canada’s FOE is compared to India’s FOE.

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Women In India Turn To Technology To Stay Safe From Harassment

Police in many Indian cities are also encouraging women to use apps to register complaints

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Women, Harassment
Women stand at a crowded place in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, Oct. 9, 2006. Safety is the biggest concern for women using public and private transport, according to a survey Thursday. VOA

New web and phone apps in India are helping women stay safe in public spaces by making it easier for them to report harassment and get help, developers say.

Women are increasingly turning to technology to stay safe in public spaces, which in turn helps the police to map “harassment prone” spots — from dimly lit roads to bus routes and street corners.

Safety is the biggest concern for women using public and private transport, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey released Thursday, as improving city access for women becomes a major focus globally.

“Women always strategize on how to access public spaces, from how to dress to what mode of transport to take, timings and whether they should travel alone or in a group,” said Sameera Khan, columnist and co-author of “Why Loiter? Women And Risk On Mumbai Streets.”

#MeToo, Victim, Harassment
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician M.J. Akbar takes the oath during the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers, July 5, 2017, at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. The Indian minister and veteran newspaper editor announced his resignation, Oct. 17, 2018, while still insisting that the accusations of sexual harassment are false. VOA

Reported crimes up 80 percent

Indian government data shows reported cases of crime against women rose by more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016.

The fatal gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012 put the spotlight on the dangers women face in India’s public spaces.

The incident spurred Supreet Singh of charity Red Dot Foundation to create the SafeCity app that encourages women across 11 Indian cities to report harassment and flag hotspots.

“We want to bridge the gap between the ground reality of harassment in public spaces and what is actually being reported,” said Singh, a speaker at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s annual Trust Conference on Thursday.

India, Harassment
Students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University participate in a protest demanding suspension of a professor accused of sexual harassment, in New Delhi. VOA

The aim is to take the spotlight off the victim and focus on the areas where crimes are committed so action can be taken.

Dimly lit lanes, crowded public transport, paths leading to community toilets, basements, parking lots and parks are places where Indian women feel most vulnerable, campaigners say.

Stigma attached to sexual harassment and an insensitive police reporting mechanism result in many cases going unreported, rights campaigners say.

Apps are promising

But apps like SafeCity, My Safetipin and Himmat (courage) promise anonymity to women reporting crimes and share data collected through the app with government agencies such as the police, municipal corporations and the transport department.

Students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University participate in a protest demanding suspension of a professor accused of sexual harassment, in New Delhi
People hold placards at a rally condemning the rapes of two girls, aged 8 and 11, in Ahmedabad, India. VOA

“The data has helped in many small ways,” said Singh of the Red Dot Foundation. “From getting the police to increase patrolling in an area prone to ‘eve-teasing’ to getting authorities to increase street lighting in dark alleys, the app is bringing change.”

Also Read: Women And Girls In Poor Countries Are Using Contraceptives More: Report

Police in many Indian cities, including New Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh, are also encouraging women to use apps to register complaints, promising prompt action.

“Safety apps are another such strategy that could be applied by women but I worry that by giving these apps, everyone else, most importantly the state, should not abdicate its responsibility towards public safety,” Khan said. (VOA)