Kaliachak, Malda, May 7, 2017: Renowned International Peace Ambassador and Firebrand BJP leader, Malda’s favourite Nirbhoy Didi, Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury made a landmark visit to violence-prone villages of Kaliachawk on 7 May 2017. Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury is part of an Intellectual Think Tank. She is a leading Social Scientist, a renowned Scholar in Gandhian Peace Studies and a Senior Policy Advisor. In her early career, she was a Crime Journalist of the Times of India, Delhi. She reported plight of victims and families affected by crime. Her Back to Village campaign is well-known among the Civil Society Members. Recently, she delivered a keynote address in Kolkata, organized by Asian Institute of Poverty Alleviation and Trickle Up, a US-based women’s rights group.
In a day long visit, she interacted with impoverished villagers of Kaliachak and identified disabled citizens and children with physical deformities. The afternoon was a unique time for little Nivedita, who came to see her with her father, a school teacher.
Nivedita cannot walk due to cerebral palsy. However, with Nirbhoy Didi, Nivedita and her father discovered a new life. “She moved her limbs and shaken her body, with love and compassion,” said Jyotirmoy, a visitor to the village. In a wonderful interaction, Sreerupa promised a Wheel Chair to little Nivedita and assured her all possible help.
Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury is well-known for her grass-root social activism as well as peace initiatives. Post Kaliachak riot in Malda in 2016, Sreerupa organized several Ahimsa Manch (Platform for Peace and Non-Violence) in English Bazaar and addressed the issues of Peace and Non-violence. It is pertinent to mention that she adopted 3000 villages of Malda in the year 2012 and works with 5 million people. Her activities include rescue and rehabilitation of homeless, abandoned and discarded persons living with mental disabilities. Her initiative is called “Nirbhoy Gram” (Fearless Village).
She is Honorary Chairperson of the Indo-US Joint Policy Task Force on homeless mentally disabled persons. In Delhi, she created history in early 90’s by selflessly rescuing thousands of mentally unwell women from difficult circumstances and brought them from street to home. She is called a Messiah of Homeless Citizens in the capital city of Delhi and loved by the People of the Street. In several landmark judgments, the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court have recorded Sreerupa’s contribution to the society.
Sreerupa’s social actions involve poverty alleviation, access to justice and women’s safety. She headed several Task Forces and Policy Initiatives of the Government of India. She was Member of the Central Social Welfare Board, which was founded by freedom fighter Durgabhai Deshmukh and later became an apex Authority of the Government of India.
After Nirbhaya’s rape and murder, Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury was appointed Chairperson of the Special Task Force on Rape, Violence and Trafficking of Women and Girls. In the 90’s she headed the Rape Crisis Intervention Centre of Delhi police. She became Honorary President of the International Congress of Women in the year 2009 and hosted several important initiatives on women’s empowerment.
Later, she was invited to the USA to speak at the United Nations Headquarters on women’s safety, at the New York City. She was invited to speak at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, by the Women’s Federation of World Peace. In Geneva, she spoke on Human Rights and Women’s Safety. In some of the landmark world events, Sreerupa was found a favourite speaker. She participated in the inauguration ceremony of the Global Women’s Peace Network in South Korea and Taiwan as a Special Invitee, Chief Guest and Honoured Speaker.
In her speech, she highlighted the role of women as peace-makers. Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury was later nominated as Honorary Chairperson of the Women’s Federation of World Peace-South Asia. “Kaliachak is known for violence and communal restlessness. It is a privilege for us that Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury came here. Her presence itself is a message to the affected communities. She is a renowned Peace Worker. She is a caring mother to millions of homeless people. So, I am sure, her visit will bring some hope among affected people,” said, Suparna Majumdar, a Human Rights Activist. As a Peace Worker, Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury held many peace negotiations in Jammu and Kashmir. She addressed Women and Families for her Tree of Peace Program. She visited Nepal, Thailand and Afghanistan with the Message of Peace and Tolerance.
Sreerupa was awarded “Outstanding Woman Award” by the National Commission of Women in the year 2013. “Among her various social initiatives, the most remarkable one is her Nirbhoy Gram Campaign in Malda district,” said Rina Roy, a university student. “She spent her early childhood in Kandaran village of Malda, at the Archaeological marvel Saheb Kothi. Her matrimonial home is English Bazaar,” informed Rina.
According to Wikipedia reports, Kaliachak is perpetually known for violence and nefarious activities. Riots broke out in Kaliachak on 3 January 2016 when a part of a protest rally turned violent. The Muslim communities were protesting the remark of a Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari made on 3 December 2015 in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which allegedly made derogatory remarks against the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. This triggered communal violence.
Mob vandalized Kaliachak Police station, block development office and public property injuring 30 policemen. Several private and government vehicles including BSF and North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) vehicles were torched. The train service was disturbed as protesters blocked railway tracks at Khaltipur railway station.
Malda district of West Bengal has a mixed population comprising Hindus and Muslims. According to 2011 Census of India, Malda district is one of such districts in India which has pre-dominance of Muslim population comparable to the Hindu population. In Kaliachak block, Muslim population shares the major proportion. This district also shares border with Indian state of Bihar and Jharkhand, also an international border with Bangladesh. This place is considered to be a safe passage of illegal drug mafia as well as poppy traders.
According to India Today reports, Kaliachak, a place near an international border, is considered as a passage of mafia and anti-socials of the neighboring states, and has become a depot of many anti-social activities. Crimes like keeping illegal arms, cultivation of poppy, dealing of fake note, illegal drug trafficking are rapidly growing in this region. Police had to fire 40 rounds in the blank in an attempt to control the mobs. Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel were deployed to control the situation. RSS activist Gopal Tiwari was injured in firing. After the violence, police have put in restrictions on people assembling by invoking section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure. Ten members of a BJP delegation led by MLA of the state Samik Bhattacharya was stopped near Rathbari area as their appearance might fuel the agitation. A three member fact finding team of BJP led by MP S. S. Ahluwalia was also deported from the Malda station.
According to the India Today reports, in various joint operations, the police and security agencies had seized many FICN (Fake Indian currency notes) consignments that came to this side of the border through the help of locals. The local police and BSF personnel have prepared a detailed list of suspects who were involved in the fake notes racket in the border belt and were keeping an eye on their movements.
“During the rampage, attackers had set the Kaliachak police station afire reportedly with the intention to destroy all criminal records. They had also attacked the block development office and ransacked as many as six houses of Hindu residents, besides setting ablaze over 35 vehicles. The National Investigative Agency (NIA), which is probing a pan-India fake notes racket, recently developed a strategy to nab the members of different modules in Malda. The development came following recent arrests of some ISI operatives with Malda links,” reports India Today.