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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 45, New Delhi, October 24, 2020

Reason Wounded, Justice Insulted—Do Not Implicate Distinguished Women Scholars and Activists in False Cases | Bharat Dogra

Saturday 24 October 2020, by Bharat Dogra

Letter to the Editor sent by Bharat Dogra

I am sure that countless readers share the shock and distress which I felt on reading the statement by participants of the Mahila Ekta Yatra, published in the Mainstream dated October 17, regarding the mention of several of these women participants, known for their deep commitment to communal harmony, in the charge sheet filed in the context of communal riots in Delhi. It is a shocking and truly dystopian situation if women who take great risk to come out in difficult conditions to work for communal harmony are themselves implicated in riot cases.

While the signatories of this statement are all women generally and widely known for their various activities relating to social welfare and harmony, I will like to add a few words about a few of these signatories whom I have known for some time. As a veteran journalist who has written on social welfare issues for over four decades for several prestigious national and international newspapers and journals, I had the honour of knowing in detail about their work.

Kamla Bhasin had a distinguished career in the Food And Agriculture Organization for a long time in the course of which she promoted innovations and gender equality all over South Asia. Her subsequent work as a feminist and development activist, poet and author, has won even more admiration and is recognized internationally. She has a lifetime of devotion to communal harmony.

Annie Raja is General Secretary of National Federation of Indian Women and in this and other important roles has been closely involved in numerous efforts and struggles for gender equality and rights of women. She and her husband D. Raja, Member of Parliament for several years, have been a constant presence at countless gatherings for justice , unity and harmony.

Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri have been leading members of The National Campaign for People’s Rights of Information (NCPRI) and Satark Nagrik Sangathan and in these as well as other roles have been involved in policy reform as well as grassroots efforts relating to resisting corruption and governance reform, particularly the strengthening of Right to Information. They have been involved in highly regarded research work on these issues for world-level prestigious institutions. Their writings have been widely published. Anjali Bhardwaj has also co-convenor of NCPRI.

Even very senior retired IPS and IAS officers have been very concerned regarding the possibilities of false accusations against those dedicated to communal harmony ( and hence true patriots promoting national unity). These voices of very senior and experienced officials who served India with distinction at high levels should be heard and as an immediate step any cases or proceedings against Mahila Ekta Yatra and its participants should be immediately withdrawn.

— Bharat Dogra, Delhi.

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