Meet the MP police officer working for Bedia community's betterment

Mishra focuses on the athletic growth of the children as an entire hamlet in the Raisen district is being developed into a Kabaddi village.
Meet the MP police officer working for Bedia community's betterment

MADHYA PRADESH: The Bedia community in Madhya Pradesh has forced its daughters to engage in prostitution for decades, while its boys have served as pimps or agents for the same girls and their customers. However, a new generation of children, teenagers, and young people from the same Scheduled Caste community are resolved to put the dark past behind them and forge a bright and respected future for themselves.

Up to 5,000 children, teenagers, and young adults, primarily from the Bedia community, live in 60 villages across six districts in central MP and the Bundelkhand region, including Bhopal, Rajgarh, Vidisha, Sagar, Raisen, and Guna. They have long since forgotten their community’s dark past and are eager to succeed in a variety of fields, ranging from engineering to civil service to other professional and vocational fields.

One of its promising young girls, who not only completed B.Tech and M.Tech but also successfully passed the UPSC civil services prelims and main examinations, is now working hard to pass the interview in order to realise her dream of working as a civil servant in a Bedia community-dominated village in a central MP district, where previously none of its children even made it to the eighth grade.

She is not the only young person from the Bedia community with big aspirations; numerous boys and girls from the same marginalised group are currently enrolled in schools, colleges, or pursuing professional degrees.

Along with other founding members of the Bhopal-based NGO “Samvedna,” Dr Veerendra Mishra, a 1995 batch MP state police service officer (promoted to the IPS cadre in 2011), is leading these dreamers toward their goal of putting an end to the intergenerational prostitution menace in the Bedia community by educating and empowering its youth. He is currently posted as assistant inspector general of police-AIG of MP State Industrial Security Force in Bhopal.

Samvedna, which was founded in 2002 when Mishra was posted as circle SP (CSP-Habibganj) in Bhopal, set out to educate and train 350 children in computers from the city’s slum areas in order to prevent the emergence of future criminals and anti-socials. However, about five years later, while serving as a sub-divisional officer police in a central MP district near Bhopal, the policeman travelled to a village where the Bedia and Gurjar communities predominated, where the women were encouraging their daughters to become prostitutes once they reached puberty.

When some of their children did enrol in school,  but not Bedia community members because of the stigma associated with being from the Bedia community (especially as a result of not having identifiable fathers). “This gave me the strong impression that the Bedia children, who were already struggling with identity issues as children, could never hope to be raised to be prepared for a better future. As a result, my Samvedna group and I decided to focus exclusively on educating these children by enrolling them in schools,” Mishra said.

The entire aim of teaching the Bedia children and securing a better and more dignified future for them began in 2008 with a group of 13 children.“We started our initiative to give these young people a bright and respectable future when we brought 13 teenage girls and boys, who were between the ages of 13 and 14, to Bhopal with the permission of their families. The number, which began with 13 teenage boys and girls, has increased to around 5,000 children, teenagers, and young adults from 60 Bedia community-dominated villages over the course of 15 years,” he added.

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