24 January, 2014, Kolkata: Today is the National Girl Child Day. Music legend, Pandit Jasraj has become the first Brand Ambassador of Nirbhoy Gram for protection of women and girl child. “Ämi Nirbhoy and I support all those women and girls who wish to pledge to be Nirbhoy,” said Panditji.
On the occasion of the National Girl Child Day, Pandit Jasraj has extended his support to the Nirbhoy Gram, a people’s movement for safety, security and protection of women and girl child in villages, currently, being experimented in Malda district of West Bengal by prominent access to justice activist, Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, popularly known as Nirbhoy Didi. Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury was Chairperson of the Special Task Force (Rape, Trafficking and Violence against Women), constituted by the Prime Minister soon after the rape and murder of Nirbhaya in Delhi on 16th December 2013. Out of her anguish over increasing number of rape and violence against women and Central Government’s apathy and failure to control sexual assault on women and young girls, Mitra Chaudhury resigned from this position few weeks ago and dedicated to lead the Nirbhoy Gram initiative from her home district Malda.
In a humble meeting held at the Abdul Rasul Avenue in Kolkata, this morning, with the volunteers of Nirbhoy Gram, Pandit Jasraj endorsed the campaign and encouraged citizens of India to adopt the goals of Nirbhoy Gram. In his endorsement letter, Pandit Jasraj wrote, “I endorse and support the goals of Nirbhoy Gram and encourage the people of India to adopt the means to achieve these goals.” He said: “Be Nirbhoy (Fearless) and stand firmly for your rights.”
The founder and leader of Nirbhoy Gram initiative, Nirbhoy didi Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, presented Panditji, a khadi angavastram, created in Charkha at Gandhi’s martyr and a Nirbhoy Brand Ambassador plaque to commemorate the National Girl Child Day. “The goals of Nirbhoy Gram are: Ensuring Peace, Freedom from Fear and Gram Swaraj through Non-Violence,” said Panditji. Today’s meeting was attended by Nirbhoy Gram National Coordinator, Tarun Monga, artist turned Nirbhoy Gram Volunteers, Tinku Das, Babita Das and Deboshree Das, and doctor and singer, Neerja Rateria. Said Tarun Monga, “Our aim is to involve and invite Nirbhoy artists from across the country in this journey of empowerment of women and young girls living in villages of India.”
Pandit Jasraj has committed to lend his voice to a series of music concerts titled “Nirbhaya” in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Malda, which shall be organised by the Nirbhoy Gram volunteers in March 2014 to raise public awareness on protection of girl child. He wishes to spend a week in Malda, watching the evolution of Nirbhoy Gram.
The Nirbhoy Gram is the first of its kind philanthropic initiative in India in Malda district of West Bengal with an aim to empower 3000 villages and spread the ideals of peace, non-violence and fearless existence. Malda has been declared one among 272 most backward districts by the Planning Commission of India. The district has reported high levels of poverty, illiteracy, crime and communal violence. The insidious and brutal incident of rape and murder of “Nirbhaya” on December 16, 2012 in New Delhi inspired activist Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury to engineer Nirbhoy Gram campaign. In the first phase, 100 villages were brought under the initiative.
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.
Elaborating his support to the Nirbhoy Gram, Punditji further stated in his endorsement: “Villages of India live in the dark corners of history. Poverty and poor infrastructure of roads, sanitation, drinking water, health, electricity and police take the happiness out of the lives of villagers. Insolvency leads to fear and insecurity. Debt traps vitiate people’s minds and create a sense of helplessness. At times, a father is forced to sell a child; and a family is disintegrated due to migration and social exclusion. In order to transform the villages of India, Nirbhoy Gram initiative has been launched in Malda district of West Bengal to remove causes of fear from the minds of the poor villagers.”