Stories of Change

Jhumpa Khatun- 18 years and Rehana Khatun- 16 years

Santoshpur, Maheshtala Police Station

Date of incidence: January 19, 2015

  Jhumpa & Rehana- two cousin sisters, were staying in adjacent houses. On January 19, 2015, they went out from home, informing that they were going to their aunt’s house and they would come back by afternoon. Till evening, their parents were waiting for them. When the girls did not return, their family members were trying to find out them in various places, but they have not found any trace of them. They did a diary on January 20, 2015 at Bishnupur Police station. After 15 days they got a phone call from Rehana and she told that 2 boys sold them against Rs. 40000 in Mumbai and after that they had been again sold out in a red light area, though those boys assured to marry them. Anyhow Rehana ran away from there to the railway station and bought a railway ticket for Surat instead of Howrah by mistakes. She had reached Surat. One unknown woman found her at the platform and had taken Rehana to her house. But the woman warned Rehana to tell her parents not to inform police by any chance.

After the incidence of their running away from home, their families contacted Alor Disha. Members of Alor Disha kept contacts with police earlier. When the phone call came from Rehana, they immediately spoke to CID directly and shared the story in details. On the day of February 15, 2015 with the help of CID, police and supports of Alor Disha, Rehana was rescued from the Bhubaneswar Station by her family. On February 17, 2015, 164 CrPC had been lodged and medical test was undergone. Rehana told that she was raped. She gave the information that they had friendship with those boys primarily through missed call and the boys committed them to marry. After bringing back Rehana, members of Alor Disha along with CID and Police, were trying to find out the whereabouts of Jhumpa.

For last one month, there were some missed calls from several mobile numbers of Pune, Maharashtra to Jhumpa’s brother’s number. At that time, one of the members of Alor Disha, acting as a sister of Jhumpa, was getting in touch with that side and giving all the information to the police and CID time to time. They were demanding money against giving back Jhumpa. Member of Alor Disha negotiated with them. Lastly, they asked for 53000 rupees and assured them that Jhumpa will be returning back. One time, they said the place would be Canning, again said Howrah and sometimes said Daakghar. Finally, at the dawn of the day June 6, 2015, at Howrah station, family members rescued Jhumpa, escorted by Police in civil dress. One person was arrested at that moment.

Jhumpa had been brought back to home. According to her say, she was also raped and sold by the boys. She has become sick and been hospitalized for treatment. The effort has been taken to investigate the incidence properly and to find out the actual accused person.

Banani...

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Date of incidence:

Being raised up in a family where her father was a civil engineer and mother a homemaker, Banani always dreamt of becoming a doctor. Though she never had any interest in Mathematics, she was fond of her science subjects. She was the elder one and also the pampered one. A good student and a topper, Banani was a role model for her younger brother and sister.

She took great interest in studies, and was also enthusiastic about learning new things. She passed her secondary and higher secondary examinations with flying colours, and got admitted in Jadavpur University with architecture. Though she always dreamt of becoming a doctor, she eventually chose to go for architecture.

Life changed when she met Ajay, a young boy who stayed two to three localities away from her. Ajay was an orphan. His father passed away when he was in class 10, and his mother when he was just about to appear for his class 12 board examinations. After his mother passed away, Ajay did not get any support from his relatives. He was totally left alone with no close one. It was difficult for Banani to leave Ajay in such a condition and she decided to tie the knot with him. They did registry and kept the news hidden from their families.

Banani knew her parents would never allow her to get married to Ajay as he was not of their standard neither economically nor socially. He only worked as an assistant to a promoter and earned minimal amount of money and stayed in a small house. This was no match to her father’s income, her educational background and her 5 acres of house. She says, “kono ma babai eta manbe nah” (No parents will accept this).

However, there was too much love in the air for Banani. She could not think of anything else apart from Ajay. She says “Ami tokhon pagol chilam” (I was mad in love then). Though they did registry in silent, Banani planned to complete her studies and gave time to Ajay to find something better and earn more, so that they could start a family together when both of them were economically sound.

However, things did not work out the way she had planned them to be. Her parents fixed her marriage with a doctor after coming to know of her affair with Ajay. “Ami amar ma baba ke dosh di nah, oder jaygay je kono jon thakle etai korto” (I do not blame my parents, anyone would have done the same). Her parents made it clear to her that they would never allow her to marry a boy like Ajay who was not even closer to their family standard.

Her date of marriage with the doctor was knocking on the door, invitations were sent to the guests, and all shopping was done. It was a few days before her Ashirbaad (blessing ceremony), that she eloped with Ajay. Banani says “ Or pashe keu chilo nah, oke ami chere dite partam nah” (No one was there to stand beside him, I could not leave him). She was only 19 years old when she left her house to begin a new life with Ajay.

It was a new life and a difficult one. Ajay managed to set up a business of decorators. He also drove a car which he had bought on loan. His business faced ups and down so did their lives. Money was less but Banani says “Taka kom chilo kintu otou kom chilo nah, bhalobasha chilo”. (Money was less but not that less. There was love). She left her course on engineering. “Aar bhalo lagchilo nah, moner opor eto chap chilo” (I did not want to continue my studies, there was so much emotional pressure). However, financial constraint was a major reason for her to discontinue her studies.

2 years passed by and it was becoming difficult for Banani and Ajay to cope up with the increasing financial pressure even in a family of two. Banani became pregnant. She thought that it was time that she took up some training courses so that she could earn out of it to contribute to her family income. She came across an advertisement of training on tailoring and without wasting a thought, she joined it. She learnt tailoring and also various ways to handle the machine.

A boy was born to her. A little ray of hope came in their lives. Banani’s parents accepted her marriage along with her son. Banani did not want to take any support from her parents. She kept relationship with them and let them give gifts to her son but she never took a penny from them to run her house. Ajay was stern on this and maintained that it was his and Banani’s self respect.

Years passed and their son was admitted to school. From a guardian, she came to know about Jeevika’s income generation unit. Staying quite close to Jeevika’s office, it was a great opportunity for her. She approached the office of Jeevika, and as she was already trained, she was taken in the production unit of embroidery. After working for a few days, she got excited to know about the tailoring unit which operated in the upstairs. She took more interest in tailoring and joined the production of the tailoring unit. She could help in cutting, stitching and handling the machines.

Situation bettered for her. She could now earn and contribute to her family income. She says “taka ta joruri kintu je khub joruri tah noy, ektu bhalo kore thakar jonno ektu beshi taka dorkar” (Money is important but more money is not important, but to stay a little more comfortably, what is harm in earning a little more?). She wanted to earn to give a good life to her son. Her son played badminton; quite an amount had to be paid for the training. Ajay made it clear to Banani that she could do anything she wanted to but their son should not be neglected. Being an orphan, Ajay never wanted his son to feel the same void owing to his parents’ busy schedule. Banani says “Ami ekhon oder opor khub dependent, ami oder chara thakte parbo nah, oder khushi amar khushi” (I am very dependent on my husband and son, I cannot stay without them, their happiness is my happiness).

She worked in Jeevika from June 2014 to January 2015. However, due to a back pain, she could not continue working as tailoring involved sitting on the machine for a long time. She left in January, 2015. She also wanted to work somewhere which had a fixed salary structure; it was different in Jeevika where salary depended on number of orders.

Banani can never forget Jeevika and the support she got, during her hard times.

She says “Kaj korechi bolei bolte perechi je Jeevikaye kaj korechi, first kaj toh Jeevika i amai dieche. Aar sudhu kaj korini, anek shikheochi, kaj korte kortei anek shakha hoy, notun techniques shikhechi ar kaj anek bhalo hoeche” (I worked in Jeevika because of which I can say that I worked here, Jeevika was the first to offer me work during my difficult times. I learnt a lot while working here. I also learnt several new techniques and my work also improved a lot).

She continues “Jeevikaye sobar sathe ekta bondhuttopurno somporko gore uthechilo, sobai khub bhalo, anek cooperation ache, ekdam friendly work atmosphere” (In Jeevika, I could develop friendship with everyone; people here are really niceand cooperative. The work atmosphere is so friendly)

Banani at times regrets that if she did not get married so early, her education would not be stopped and she could be an engineer now. If her parents supported her at that moment, she would not take such a hasty decision of marriage. However, no one could be blamed now because her decision of marriage was solely her own. she says “Jibon ta onno rokom hote parto, ekhon 8000 takar pechone dourachi, amar maine 80,000 taka hote parto” ( Life could have been different, now I am running behind Rs. 8000, My income could have been Rs. 80,000).

She is atleast glad that Ajay truly loves and cares for her. She is now happy in her small world and does not want to brood over her past anymore. Her son is very important to her and she wants to fulfil all his dreams. She is happy to identify herself as Ajay’s wife and a mother. Presently, she is working in a school as a designer of uniforms for the students. She also imparts training.

Banani has been lucky enough to get Ajay in her life. May be her dream of becoming an engineer has been shattered, but she is glad that she has received support from Jeevika and her training centre during her difficult times.

“Abar fire aste chai Jeevika te jodi kokhono sujog pai, ekhankar moto support ar friendly atmosphere ar kothao pabo nah” (I will love to come back to Jeevika if I ever get an opportunity, I will never get the support which I got from Jeevika, and such a friendly atmosphere anywhere else) smiles Banani.

Asmoth Sheikh

Chandrahati, P.O- Khagramuli

Boro season 2014-2015

My name is Asmoth Sheikh, residing in Chandrahati, P.O- Khagramuli and I am a sharecropper by occupation. In last Kharif and Boro seasons, I have cultivated 1.5 and 2.5 Bighas of lands respectively by using the SRI Method. During the last two seasons using the SRI Method, I have realised the following:

 

Earlier using traditional techniques, I had used 150 kgs of chemical fertilizers on 6 Bighas of land. However, now, I can do the same by using just 90kgs of chemical fertilizers by using SRI techniques. In the last Boro season, I undertook a trial of cultivating 2.5 Bighas of land both by the SRI and the traditional techniques and I could gain 36 sacks (60 kg each) of grains from the SRI techniques and only 24 sacks from the traditional method and by using the SRI technique, the amount of fertilizer needed was also comparatively less. By using both SRI and traditional techniques, I had to spend Rs. 22,000 as the input cost and produced 60 sacks of paddy. I sold these and received RS. 36,000. I made a profit of Rs. 14,000.

RIKIA KHATUN

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Date : -----

RRikia is a 5 years old girl staying under Maheshtala police station area. Rikia’s mother is working as domestic help, so the girl-child and her 10 years old elder brother were staying at home for the whole day. On the day of incidence, one 50 year old man, who came to their area for visiting his relative’s house, suddenly entered their house and asked Rikia about her mother. When Rikia told that her mother went to work, the man raped her. Rikia was screaming; her brother came rushing from other room. He saw the door of the room was closed from inside. At that time, he also shouted and called the neighbours. But, in the mean time the man ran away. Then he informed their mother.

The mother came and at first informed the matter to the local club, and then went to local police station for filing the case. After listening everything, police told them, ‘this is a simple incidence, so the man will get bail. Nothing will happen.’ Her mother did FIR forcefully on February 9, 2012. After this, Rikia was presented as witness in front of Police and Magistrate. Her medical test was also done. The accused person was arrested, but he got bail within a few days. Then Rikia’s mother contacted Alor Disha.

The court served summons to Rikia’s home to appeal in the court. The members of Alor Disha contacted the Public Prosecutor (PP) and went through the case records. During this period, Rikia was getting sick day by day. She was under treatment. There was a big pressure to withdraw the case. So Alor Disha discussed with Officer in-charge of local police station and asked for the protection of Rikia and her family. For investigating the threat, the police went several times; diaries had been lodged again and again and also submitted to PP.

Again the accused person was arrested on April 24, 2013 by the order of magistrate. Witnesses had been given by the mother, father, aunt, brother of Rikia and by Rikia herself. Meanwhile, the landlord of the house where Rikia and her family were staying, pressurized them to vacate the house immediately. Alor Disha intervened and discussed with landlord and police to solve this problem.

When the trial started, the Investigating Officer was given summons thrice; still he did not appear for witness. After that, the Magistrate issued a warrant against him. After then he was compelled to appear in court.

Dealing with the Law Enforcing Agencies and the Judiciary was not smooth for Alor Disha. The volunteers had to do a constant follow up, sometimes, police and public prosecutors did not pay heed to them, still they did not give up hope.

On June 5, 2015, the man was declared as a defendant in a criminal case and on June 6, 2015, the final hearing of the case was done. The verdict of the court was: “the criminal is being punished for 10 years jail custody and Rs. 25000 money penalty. The family members of Rikia will get the money. If he will not able to give the imposed money penalties, then he will have to stay in jail for another 6 months”.

Now, Jeevika is trying to send the survivor to a residential school.