Akhil Bharatiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan

Mohini Giri Weeps Hearing Exploitation of Patha Women

Karvi (Banda), May 20. While hearing tales of exploitation of Patha women from their mouths, Chairperson of the National Commission for Women Mrs Mohini Giri could not stop her tears.

In the first round of the status of adivasi women organised by Akhil Bharatiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan and Mahila Jagriti Mandal, women victims of Patha exploited by the police and oppressors narrated their tales. Several women went inconsolable while narrating their stories. Chairperson of women commission was also seen wiping her tears. The Director of Samaj Sewa Sansthan Mr Gopal narrated the objectives of the workshop and exhorted the women to tell their sufferings. He said even after 50 years of independence, the situation has changed little here.

Kol woman from Suargarh village, Tirasia, said while weeping that a Thakur of Garhchapa, Jagnaik Singh, had kept him for the last 20 years. After delivering four children from him, when she became old, he abandoned her, but grabbed her land. Mrs Giri taped her story and assured action.

Dukhi of Hardiha village said she got land on lease after sterilisation, but the land was usurped by the dominant persons. The children sell wood to manage their lives somehow. Semia of Suargarha said that oppressor Seth Gungai has occupied her 46 bigha land. She said even after winning several cases, she had not got possession of the land.

Kol woman Suawati of Bhariyan village said that she was raped by a youth of her village on April 18, 1996. With tears in her eyes, she said that the Karvi police forced her to sit in the police station for three days in the guise of inquiry. Saraswati of Mahila Jagriti Mandal said that on an average 10 Kol women are raped in Patha area.

Shakuntala of Sheshapur said that pradhan of her village got a loan of Rs 4,000 in her name and then she was raped by a dominant Brahmin of her village. Because of terror she could not lodge a report. Rajni of Samreeha described how Manikpur police severely beat her sister-in-law and niece. She said that the policemen torture them on the charges that they give shelter to dacoits.

I shall do something, only then come to this area

Zilla Panchayat member Booti Bai said that women elected in the panchayats did not have any rights. During election to Zilla Panchayat Chairperson, several attempts were made to kidnap her and threats were given to kill her husband. Itwaria of Hardia village said that her father was bonded with the village Thakur. The Thakur took a loan in his name and now her land would be auctioned on June 2. Mrs Giri said that she would write a letter to the District Magistrate in this regard.

Shanti (15) of Amchur Nerua said that policemen of Markundi police station misbehaved with her. Now pressure is being mounted on her to change her statement. Three women of snake charmer families Toofanpati, Dularipati and Chamelapati said that they depended on begging for their lives. Most of the 250 families had widows as their husbands had died of snake bites. They do not have homes, nor have any government facilities. These women said they did not know if there existed government at all.

Shanti Devi coming from Banda said that two months ago her daughter Sangeeta was killed by her in-laws, but no one has heard her. Lakhpatia of Jamira Colony and Rajkumari of Goia (Bargarh) complained about bungling in colony construction and also that half money was paid under maternity scheme. Phoolkali complained of less wages. Yashoda Devi complained that she did not get any wages.

Social worker Vasudev narrated pain of Patha through the song "Pathawi tunm suno kahani ham kolon ki bani mein, sadiyon se ham thage ja rahe Shabri Ram kahani mein; bandookon booton ki nokon se ham mare jate hain, shoshan ke sau roop yahan sab khabron mein chhap jate hain." (Listen stories of we Kols in our language as we are cheated since centuries, even in the epic Shabri Ram tale. We are beaten by gun buts and shoes. There exist hundreds of forms of exploitation and they all get printed in the newspapers.)

Lalita of Gudiya Talab and Shyamkali of Samrauha said that their entire families were bonded with the families of the powerful people in the village. These women said that they got only 1.25 kg grains as wages.

In the second phase of the workshop, Mrs Tiwari said that no woman in the country would work in bondage, nor would get into flesh trade. She said that hearing pain and suffering of Patha women, she got tears in her eyes. She said that the National Commission for Women would raise all issues of Patha. I promise I will come to this area only if I am able to do something for the women of this area. I shall put instances of rape with women and girls before the Union Home Ministry. This workshop organised at Ranipur was chaired by social worker Ms S Almelu from Delhi.

Mrs Giri said wherever she went in the country, she found the condition of women very pitiable. Hearing pain of women tears come in my eyes. Those sitting in power have traded in our bodies. She said now women of the country would not tolerate atrocities of men. Women must get organised to oppose these matters. We want one-third seats for women in Parliament, but contractors of politics were opposing this.

Mrs Giri said that struggle of women has started in the country. Sisters of Andhra Pradesh destroyed all the liquor vends to get their husbands rid of habit of consuming liquor. Andhra women said they would vote for the party which would put a ban on liquor. At last women became victorious. Women of Patha should get organised in a similar manner, only then they would be heard.

Contractors of politics are opposing reservation for women

She said that the men have always oppressed women for their comfort. The National Commission for Women will fight for all the problems of women from here. She said that the men was getting entangled in the western culture. It is only the women who are keeping traditions and culture alive. Mrs Giri said that she would put the demands mentioned in the memorandums given to her before the Government of India and State Government. To accord status of Scheduled Tribe to the Kols, the commission had written to the Central Government and action was being taken on that. She repeated several times that she swore that she would return to the area only when she was able to do something for the Adivasi women of Patha.

In her address the chairperson of the workshop and famous social worker Ms S Almelu said in her address that human rights were being blatantly violated in Patha area. Incidences of gang rapes were taking place here for the last 10 years. To challenge discrepancies here, women of Patha and Shankargarh would have to get organised. Through the couplet "Har kadam manzil ke karib hai" (each step is near the destination), Ms Almelu said that the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women had heard you and now problems would be solved.

In the beginning of the workshop, the Director of Akhil Bharatiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan Gaya Prasad Gopal gave an introduction of Mrs Mohini Giri and Advisor to National Commission for Women Ms Kusum Nautiyal. Secretary of Mahila Jagriti Mandal Saraswati welcomed the guests and conducted the workshop.

In the end of the workshop, secretary of Mahila Jagriti Mandal Saraswati handed over a memorandum related to the snake charmers and adivasis to Mrs Giri. Urmila of Patha Kol Adhikar Manch gave a memorandum with regard to Patha. Shyamlal present his song, "Chhoti chhoti baton pe vichar hona chahiye, admi ko admi se pyar hona chahiye." (Even small matters must be discussed and each person should love other.)

During cultural programme, Booti Bai and her accompaniments presented Adivasi songs like Rai, Karma and Koilihai.

Amar Ujala, Kanpur, May 21

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