Civil society seeks security for women activists

Lucknow, May 23 (IANS) Safety and well being of social activists involved in development work in Uttar Pradesh came under focus Thursday when an independent panel of women groups released a fact-finding report on an attack on Dalit women at Lalitpur.

Addressing the media here, members of the panel — retired police officer S.R. Darapuri and women’s rights activist Madhavi Kuckreja — highlighted the pathetic state in which women trying to empower others lived in.

They said that despite the arrest of Shaba Singh Yadav, a local goon who assaulted five women activists, the “state of fear and apprehension prevailing in the area continued”.

The panel recommended that the state government take preventive action against such lumpen elements to safeguard the well being of the Dalit and tribal community.

They also sought the creation of a forum in the next six months where activists, civil society groups and members of the community can discuss challenges they face during the course of their work.

They called for training policemen at the state level on the new Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 and compensation to survivors of such assault.

Women activists from other parts of the state also shared their anxiety and experiences during their duties and said they felt insecure while working for the Dalits and other oppressed sections of the society.

Meena, the district coordinator of Sahjani Shiksha Kendra (SSK), shared the details of the violence with the media persons.

She related harrowing details of how on May 12, during the opening of a literacy centre for Dalit women in Digwar village in Lalitpur, they were brutally assaulted by Sahab Singh Yadav, resulting in serious body and head injuries to five women activists.

Despite the arrest of Yadav, she said, he continued to intimidate them and threaten them with dire consequences if they gave a statement against him. The accused is in judicial custody now.

Calling for stringent action against such people, Roop Rekha Verma, a former vice chancellor of Lucknow University, rued that socially marginalized sections continued to face exclusion.

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