February 27, Pune: Social Reformer Anna Hazare extended his wholehearted support to Nirbhoy Didi Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury for the Nirbhoy Gram Campaign in Malda District of West Bengal. Anna became the fifth Nirbhoy Gram Ambassador on 25th February 2014 at his residence in Ralegan Siddhi, 80 kilometers away from Pune city. Earlier, Anna was pleased to learn about Nirbhoy Gram initiative in Malda on 18th February during his visit to Delhi for a meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Anna’s support is seen as a big leap to the movement undertaken by Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury.
The Nirbhoy Gram is the first of its kind philanthropic initiative in Malda district of West Bengal with an aim to cover 3000 villages and expected to spread the ideals of peace, non-violence and fearless existence among women and young girls. While accepting the role of Nirbhoy Ambassador, Anna Hazare congratulated Nirbhoy didi Sreerupa and the people of Malda for this landmark initiative. Anna said, “ I will surely visit Malda with you and provide my inputs and support whichever way I can.” Nirbhoy Didi, in turn extended her support to Anna’s new campaign namely, Janloktantra. During the meeting with Anna, several discussions took place on issues of women’s participation in active politics, empowerment of rural women and significance of toilet and pucca door in village homes. Anna was supportive of Sreerupa’s campaign for toilet and pucca door in each village home for prevention of rape of women. Anna hailed the support of Nirbhoy volunteers and the campaign’s objective of changing deceitful leadership from Indian polity and taking the fight to elect true and honest leaders in every political forum. Nirbhoy Gram stands for ideals of peace, non-violence and honest leadership in polity and governance. The campaign is targeting rural segments. Anna said, “I am happy that Nirbhoy Didi is spearheading a Back to Village Campaign and spending time in true empowerment of voters in rural Bengal. If the voters are empowered and realise that their voting can change their social and economic status, a new India will emerge and there will no difference in rural Bharat and Urban India.”
Anna said, “Nirbhoy Gram campaign will empower villagers to realise the true dream of Gram Swaraj. I am confident that the Campaign will move the hearts of the downtrodden and help them to demand safety, justice and peace in their daily lives. I am very happy that the Camapign is focussing on the importance of the villages and the concept of Mahila Gram Sabha.”
In less than one month, the Nirbhoy Gram Campaign has received support of four other stalwarts, namely, former President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Pandit Jasraj, Gandhi’s granddaughter Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee and eminent author Mahasweta Devi.
Malda has been declared one among 272 most backward districts by the Planning Commission of India. Nestled in the border of Bangladesh, the district has reported high levels of poverty, illiteracy, crime and communal violence. The Nirbhoy Gram campaign has been spearheaded by prominent social activist Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury for safety, security and protection of women and young girls.
Nirbhoy Gram means a fearless village. It primarily focuses on safety and security of women and children. The initiative has been envisioned as a people’s movement for safety, security and justice at the grassroot. The campaign aims to remove fear from the minds of villagers, teach villagers to stand against crime and corruption, educate them to fight economic insolvency, motivate them to voice out their demands for safety and security and elect fearless and truthful leaders as their representatives in polity for social, economic and infrastructural transformation of the villages.
The insidious and brutal incident of rape of “Nirbhaya” on December 16, 2012 in New Delhi highlights the most atrocious forms of violence in our society. A young girl came to study in a metropolitan city. She was brutally raped and murdered. The incident marked a powerful reaction of the Indian youth against police, government and the civil administration. Nirbhaya became a national emergency. Following this cruel incident, Nirbhaya emerged as a symbol of fearless existence. Her spirit is undying, insurmountable and she emerged as a symbolic national character.
The symbolic character Nirbhaya has inspired activist Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury to engineer Nirbhoy Gram (Fearless Village) Campaign. The core idea is to motivate and empower villagers towards eradication of poverty, fear, illiteracy and social maladies from their lives. The Nirbhoy Gram is seeking to achieve rural people’s absolute trust in police, government and the Panchayat system (Local Self Government). The founder of Nirbhoy Gram, Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, is fondly addressed as Nirbhoy Didi by the local villagers.