All of us have witnessed unprecedented attacks on our Constitutional values, especially democracy and secularism, and on the livelihoods of people, by the ruling fascist regime at the Centre over the past few months, taking advantage of the Corona pandemic. In order to launch a concerted campaign to create awareness among the people regarding these issues, we were involved in reviving the "Hum Bharat Ke Log" (We The People Of India) platform of people's organisations from all over the country, and organized several campaigns under its banner. We were also involved in various campaigns and protests against the inhuman manner in which the administration of the Uttar Pradesh state handled the Hathras rape case. Here is a brief report of our activities in October month.
Programs organized by Hum Bharat Ke Log
2 October: Nirbhay Bano (Be Fearless)
Human chain on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti
On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, Hum Bharat ke Log organized a human chain at Pune station from Gandhi statue to Ambedkar statue. This protest was “to reclaim Gandhi’s Swaraj” that is – to assert our right to dissent against the rulers and the ruling ideology. We participated in this human chain along with various progressive organizations of Pune. Lokayat teams in the Kondhwa area and Peths of Pune also conducted smaller protests in their respective areas.
14 October: MSP Divas
Public Awareness Campaign in Support of Farmers' Demands
The nationwide farmers’ movement had given a call to organise MSP Divas on 14 October to create awareness amongst people regarding their demands. In solidarity with their call, Hum Bharat ke Log (We the People of India) organized an awareness campaign at the Mahatma Phule Mandai in Pune. Despite heavy rains, 25 people, including our activists, participated in the campaign. We held placards and banners and distributed pamphlets to the few people present in the market.
Online cultural program on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti
On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, Hum Bharat ke Log organized an online program of cultural resistance against the fascist policies of the Modi government. This program was live streamed by more than 20 Facebook pages on two occasions. More than 15 artists and cultural troupes participated in this program and sent us recordings of their performances. Kafila team also presented two songs in this program. More than 3000 people viewed this on Facebook.
Online webinar on the occasion of 4th anniversary of demonetization
Hum Bharat ke Log Maharashtra, had issued a nationwide appeal to mark the 8th November as National Economic Disaster Day on occasion of the 4th anniversary of the unprecedented assault launched by the Modi Government on the informal sector in the name of demonetisation. The unplanned lockdown and the government's refusal to provide any meaningful economic relief to the people has further worsened the crisis gripping the country's informal sector, which provides employment to nearly 93% of the country's workforce. To create awareness about these issues, Hum Bharat ke Log organised a webinar on related issues, in the organising of which our activists played a key. Prominent economists and grassroots activists were the speakers – Dr. Arun Kumar, Dr. Darshan Pal, Medha Patkar, Vishwas Utagi and Neeraj Jain. Thousands of people viewed this on the 10 Facebook pages which live-streamed this amazing webinar.
At the initiative of Lokayat and the Pune city Congress party, three main non-BJP parties, the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena, organised a joint rally against the horrific Hathras Rape case and its inhuman handling by the UP Government, which exposed the growing fascist atmosphere in Uttar Pradesh. More than a thousand people participated in the march from Lal Mahal to Mahatma Phule Mandai in the heart of old Pune.
6 October: How many more Khairlanji and Hathras?
Public protest meeting against Hathras rape
A public protest meeting was organised in the old city, jointly by Lokayat and local unit of the Congress party. Members of AAP and RSD also joined this meeting. More than fifty people, including several local people who had been active in Pune Shaheen Bagh dharna before the lockdown, attended this meeting. The meeting concluded with a public pledge to struggle against casteism and Patriarchy.
3 October: How many more Khairlanji and Hathras?
Public protest meeting against Hathras rape
In protest against the Hathras incident, a candlelight vigil was held on 3rd Oct at Golandaj chowk in the Wadarwadi slum of Pune. Although the vigil was unpublicized and started with a handful of our activists, more than 40 local people joined it spontaneously. We also organized similar, small protest/campaigns in several areas of Wadarwadi and Gokhalenagar in the days that followed, in which many local people participated.
Series of street campaigns against Hathras rape
We organized a series of street campaigns in various parts of Pune in the background of the Hathras incident, to have a dialogue with the people on the increasing number of incidents of violence against women across the country, and calling upon people to take stands on fighting caste and patriarchy in their daily lives. We got an amazing response from common people on this issue, with many people even volunteering to join Abhivyakti.
Activists from Lokayat also participated in a street protest at Rani Laxmibai statue, organized by Ambedkar Students’ Organization as part of a nationwide protest against the Hathras rape case.
The Duet of Caste and Patriarchy
Online talk by Satish Deshpande
In the wake of the Hathras gangrape, we felt the need to highlight the interlinkages between caste and patriarchy in Indian society. We invited one of India's best known sociologists, Prof. Satish Deshpande, to deliver this online talk, which was seen online by more than 2500 people. The question-answer session that followed the talk was also very enlightening.
Due to the superstitions and stigma surrounding menstruation, because of which women are treated as untouchables during their periods, many women during Navratri take medications to delay their menstrual cycles, which can have adverse impact on their health. We conducted an online campaign during the festival to speak out against the stigma associated with this natural cycle. 20 people shared their views by way of posters and placards on social media. The participants came from various districts of Maharashtra. The most heartening part of this campaign was the phone calls we received from quite a few women, informing us they had decided to assert their control over their bodies and quit taking the pills from this year on.
A group reading of progressive Marathi writer Baburao Bagul’s short story, Kalokhache Kaidi, was attended by 28 people from various districts of the state. All participants found a new perspective on the caste-gender interplay.
Webinar on Gender Equality
We conducted a webinar on the issue of Gender Equality for college students. The webinar was conducted by our activist Alka Joshi and was attended by many students and faculty.
Programs organized by Lawyers for Equality
Recent Changes in Law and Their Impact on People
Online webinar by Adv. Mihir Desai
Lokayat's legal front, Samatesathi Vakil (Lawers for Equality), organized a talk by noted lawyer and human rights activist Mihir Desai on the impact of the new laws passed by the Modi government during lockdown. He discussed both the legal aspects and the political aspects during his talk. More than 75 people, including several lawyers, attended this program.
Follow up with officials for various issues associated with Rationing system (PDS)
The lockdown brought to light, once again, many gaping holes in the PDS, a consequence of the systematic neglect by successive governments. We have been making efforts for the last few months to organize residents of Indiranagar in south Pune to ensure that all of them get their ration allocations due to them from the PDS. Awareness drives, meetings of locals, gathering a hundred odd formal complaints, and finally meeting and follow-up of officials, all of this was done by local women along with our activists. Once, the officials even tried to mislead the locals into signing a declaration of complaint redressal taking advantage of their inability to read – this was stalled by timely intervention by our activists, and the officials corrected their ways the next day.
Collaboration with Rikshaw Panchayat
Series of creative protests of rikshaw drivers in Pune
Rickshaw drivers in Pune, under the leadership of Dr. Baba Adhav and Nitin Pawar, have been agitating for compensation for losses caused by the lockdown and for a slew of other livelihood related demands. Four large protests were carried out by the Rickshaw Panchayat for these demands during the month of October. On the 1st of October, there was a dharna outside the Pune collector office. It was a massive protest, in which more than 1000 rickshaw drivers participated. This was followed by three Satyagrahas outside the offices of all members of the ruling alliance in the state – Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena. The satyagrahas were very creative – the rickshaw drivers made huge cut-outs, sang bhajans, and invoked the ideals of Sant Tukaram, Shivaji Maharaj and Mahatma Gandhi in their protests. Our activists helped in the organizing of all these protests.
Collaboration with FFF Pune
Series of creative campaigns on the issue of climate crisis
Our student activists are active in the FFF Pune Chapter. They are actively campaigning to protect the tekdis (hills) of Pune city as well as raising awareness about the deepening global ecological crisis. Three such campaigns were organized this month. These campaigns on the most popular hills of Pune are getting a good response.
New on YouTube
Protest rally against Hathras rape
Poem- Kisne Roke Ruka Hai Savera?
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