PATNA: Some tribal women in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district have caused a furore by staging protests in the nude and getting such protests photographed, prompting the state government to order an investigation.
Photographs of the protests by the middle-aged women wearing nothing other than placards hanging from their necks have gone viral on the social media. Photographs of the protests were allegedly sent, along with the memorandum of demands, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and Governor Draupadi Murmu among other top dignitaries.
The protests were organised by the Adivasi Ghatwar Mahasabha (AGM) against the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), which operates thermal and hydel power stations in Jharkhand and West Bengal, alleging that people displaced by the projects were denied jobs.
AGM leader Ramashray Singh, who organised the protests to draw the government’s attention to the plight of the displaced people, had uploaded the photographs on social media platforms. After eyebrows were raised in many quarters, he apologised for putting the photos online and removed them, but he said the women had themselves chosen the manner of protest.
“Families of the people displaced by the power projects are living miserable lives in the absence of compensation and jobs even as DVC employed outsiders. These women were so hurt by five decades of indifference by the authorities that they decided to protest in this manner,” said Singh.
Mangoli Hembrum, one of the tribal women who staged a nude protest, said: “I willingly staged the nude protest as I believed my son can get a job with DVC if the authorities are shocked enough by our sense of hurt. I was told that these photographs would be sent only to the government. I am ashamed to know the photographs came on the Internet”. Bahamuni Hembrum echoed similar views.
“This is a serious offence to engage in this kind of protests. A probe should find out the people who brought women’s dignity to shame,” said ruling BJP legislator Raj Sinha. The Opposition Congress leader Mannan Malik said: “The protests are within the women’s democratic rights, but making those photographs public is wrong. It is time the government found out why the women felt distressed and engaged in such extreme protests”.
Several tribal organisations held demonstrations in Dhanbad and Ranchi to condemn the nude protests by the women and demanded that a fresh survey of employment provided by DVC to displaced people be conducted.
“A probe has been ordered into the incident. It seems these protests were held some months ago, perhaps during Holi, and the photographs became online only now. Suitable action would be taken after the probe report comes in,” said Dhanbad SSP Manoj Ratan Chothe.