KUMARHATTI: In a significant development about 5,000 single women from the state will undertake a three-day pad yatra from Arki to Shimla, starting April 1 to impress upon the government the urgent need to address their issues.The pad yatra is being undertaken by Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan (ENSS) to draw the government’s attention to the demands of sangathan besides to sensitize the government to evolve a rights-based policy for single women. Rather than patronage, ENSS demands a state policy framed on principles of inclusion for single women across the state of state.
The ENSS is holding the yatra with the association of SUTRA, a Jagjit Nagar (Kasauli) based NGO.
Says Mr. Subhash Mendhapurkar of SUTRA a Jagjit Nagar (Kasauli) based NGO, â€œmore than 3,800 women from six districts of Himachal have already enrolled for the pad yatra and we are sure of achieving our target of 5,000 women.”
All of the enrolled women will gather in Arki on March 31, 2008 and start walking to Shimla on April 1 and reach Vidhan Sabha, Shimla on April 3, 2008 afternoon to present a memorandum to the state Chief Minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal.
The key demands of ENSS include:
a. For the older single women, pension policy should be framed on the model of the existing policy in the neighbouring state of Haryana. Pensions should be paid every month without fail.
b. Those single women who are fighting to secure their rights vis-Ã -vis their in-laws’ family, their cases must be referred to fast track courts. Also, the spouses of all the single women who are not paying the maintenance amount, as decreed by either the gram panchayats or the civil courts, should be legally challenged through fast track courts.
c. The State should ensure that two acres of land is granted on a long-term lease (from government’s surplus land pool) to all the economically weak single women who are capable and eager to work as self-employed farmers.
d. Every single woman should be provided with health care facilities from the primary to the tertiary level, free of cost.
To organize the pad yatra, ENSS has called upon individuals to make contributions and make this initiative a mass public movement. A personal contribution of Rs 600 will help cover the costs of one participant of the pad yatra, which includes travel, food and administrative expenses.
It will also be an expression of oneâ€™s solidarity with this important cause. In this fight for an individual’s rights and dignity, we seek public support, points out Mr. Mendhapurkar.
The donations to help yatra can be sent to SUTRA on the following Bank Accounts; For Donations in Indian currency: Punjab National Bank, Jagjit Nagar, District Solan, HP. Bank Account No.: 2197000100018636 Bank Branch Code Neft No.: PULB 0219700 and for donations in Indian and Foreign currency: Oriental Bank of Commerce, Jubbar, District Solan, HP. Bank Account No.: 02232010003190 Bank Branch Code Neft No.: OBC 0223.
SUTRA is registered under Societies Act 1860 and with Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India to receive Foreign Funds. The donations to SUTRA are exempted from Income Tax under IT Act. Section 80 G.