'Baatein Aman Ki' campaign to gun for peace and harmony

Updated: Sep 13, 2018, 10:04 IST | Hemal Ashar

'Baatein Aman Ki' campaign to start conversations on peace, harmony and social justice

'Baatein Aman Ki' campaign to gun for peace and harmony
(From left) Anjali Monteiro, Lata Bhise Sonawane, Shabnam Hashmi, Varsha Vidya Vilas and Joycia Thorat at the conference. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Giving the 'there is no space for dissent in the current Narendra Modi govt, regime' narrative a feminist twist, a clutch of women's and civil society organisations have come together to hold a pan-India campaign — 'Baatein Aman Ki' (peace conversations). This hopes to galvanise women and men across the nation to propagate peace, harmony, love and safeguard constitutional values. The campaign will see women on a pan-India journey to spread the message of peace, harmony, tolerance and to fight back against what the organisers call, "targeted attacks on the Constitutional rights of women in India."

Creating awareness
There will be five vans of approximately 25 women each moving across the nation (five routes have been chalked out), including Kandhal (Himachal), Kerala and Kashmir. Women will distribute posters and leaflets upping awareness about shrinking dissent space and attacks on rights. Over 500 programmes will be held in 200 cities, towns and villages where these vans will go, telling the public to think about the surge in violence in society.

Some of the movers and shakers behind this effort, activists Joycia Thorat, Lata Bhise Sonawane, Varsha Vidya Vilas, Anjali Monteiro and Shabnam Hashmi came together at a press meet at the Mumbai Press Club at Azad Maidan on Wednesday, to outline the programme. Varsha Vilas began by saying, "There has been a spike in crimes against women over the past four years that we have to raise our voice. The yatras will create awareness." The speakers were quick to clarify that though this was a women-driven campaign, "the overarching theme is human rights and the nation, it is not about women issues only."

New tamashas
National co-ordinator Shabnam Hashmi claimed, "Hate is spreading in the nation. There is not a day when you think you can breathe in peace, everyday there is some new tamasha. One is fearful of expressing one's views, even on Facebook because the police might be at your door. Our children must have the right to love instead of having Romeo squads unleashed on them." Hashmi added, "This is the first time after Independence that women will come out in such numbers to save India." Speaker Lata Bhise Sonawane said the yatras would be "historic. Currently, the atmosphere of fear is pervasive and women want to live with respect."

Virtual journey
Panellist Joycia Thorat outlined a daylong programme, "to be held in Mumbai on October 2. "Baatein Aman Ki' will begin with a peace march in Mumbai. The day will culminate with a cultural programme at the Sophia Bhabha auditorium in Breach Candy." Anjali Monteiro of TISS sai, "The campaign will also be heavily promoted on social media."

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