February 25, Pune: Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, former President of India, became Ambassador of Nirbhoy Gram Campaign today. Nirbhoy Gram is the first of its kind philanthropic initiative in Malda district of West Bengal with an aim to empower 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, Smt. Patil congratulated Nirbhoy didi Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury and the people of Malda for this landmark initiative. She said, “I appreciate and extend my best wishes to the people of Malda and West Bengal for participating in such a meaningful campaign directed to secure the life of women and children of the villages. In my tenure as the President of India, I have witnessed the mercurial efficiency and courageous actions for social change and protection of women’s rights in the initiatives of Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury. Therefore, with conviction, I can say that this Nirbhoy Gram Initiative will certainly show the path of justice at the grassroot. My heartfelt wishes are conveyed to you all through your favourite Nirbhoy didi this afternoon.” The Nirbhoy Gram Campaign has so far received the blessings of four stalwarts, Pandit Jasraj, Smt. Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, Mahasweta Devi Ji and former President of India Smt. Pratibha Patil. Eminent social reformer Sh. Anna Hazare is expected to meet Nirbhoy didi this evening at his village Ralegan Siddhi and endorse the Nirbhoy Gram Campaign of West Bengal.
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.
Smt. Pratibha Patil was the first woman to serve as President of India (2007–12). During her tenure as the President of India, she directed the launch of the National Mission for Empowerment of Women by the government.
In a humble meeting organized in Pune, Smt. Pratibha Patil received the Nirbhoy Peace Apostle plaque from Nirbhoy Gram Founder Nirbhoy didi Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury. While accepting the plaque, she said, “It is a moment of pride for me to be associated with a movement which is, in true sense, a people’s movement for safety and security of women and girls. I am deeply touched by the principles and objectives of Nirbhoy Gram.”
Smt. Patil signed her endorsement and statement for public knowledge. In her statement, she said, “It is heartening to learn that Nirbhoy Gram Campaign is growing like a wild fire across thousands of villages in West Bengal. I feel that only a people’s movement like this will be a ray of hope for the underprivileged sections and will bring “sunlight” into their lives.”
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.