Shruti Nagvanshi

Shruti Nagvanshi

Founder of Savitri Bai Phule women Forum( http://dalitwomen.blogspot.in/) and managing trustee of jan Mitra Nyas,a representig board of PVCHR (www.pvchr.asia).

Shruti was born on 2nd January 1974 in Varanasi city. Her father was a Development Officer in Life Insurance Company.  She is the eldest among four members, namely one brother and three sisters. She studied up to intermediate (Pre-University studies) at Basant Kanya Vidyalaya founded by Annie Beasant of the Theosophical Society of India.

Right from her childhood, Shruti used to get disturbed with social anomalies, exploitation and very specially looking at the big gulf between the rich and the poor where the poor of Varanasi city go to bed without food. She, in spite of the opposition from her father gave food to the poor and the deprived.

On 22 Feb. 1992, she got married to Dr.Lenin. After this, in spite of the many pressures from her father, she daily walked two kilometers to Uday Pratap College and completed her graduation. In 1994 she along with her husband was expelled from the house by her in-laws and lived in extreme constraints in a rented room.But now,her father  recognizes the education of girls due to her iconic recognition in society.

From 1996 to 1997 she was the District General Secretary of Bachpan Bachao Andolan ( Save Childhood Movement), a national movement against child labour.  PVCHR was formed in 1996 in collaboration with famous Hindi poet Gyanendra Pati, internationally well known Sarod maestro Vikash Maharaj, Historian Dr. Mahendra Pratap Singh and Human Rights activist and her husband Dr. Lenin. The approach of the organization is two-fold: to have a strong grassroots organization to work for democratic rights of those in marginalized communities and secondly, to create the structure and dynamics to receive the assistance of national and international institutions.  Although both were born into high castes, they have spent their lives – often at great risk – fighting for the rights of all.  This “peoples’ forum” is located the Uttar Pradesh region of India.  Even though there have been laws against treating people as “untouchables” for decades, the practice persists and PVCHR is an important force for change.

On 24 Jan 1998, a son was born to Shruti and Lenin and they named him Kabir, the name of the great poet saint who sang songs on communal harmony and against social evils in the 16th century.

In 1999, Shruti became the founder trustee and managing trustee of Jan Mitra Nyas(People Friendly Trust), the governing body for running PVCHR. Shruti is the co-initiator of Jan Mitra villages, which empower the dalit communities and very specially women and children based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of United Nations Assembly of 1948.

Because PVCHR could not take up all the cases of human rights violation of women, Shruti founded Savitri Ba Phule Women’s Forum. Savitri Ba Phule is the first Indian woman to become a teacher and founder of the first shelter home for the battered women victims. When her husband died Savitri went against the social traditions by accompanying the dead body and also lighted the pyre. The Forum celebrates 10th March as Indian Women’s Day, as this is the death anniversary of Savitri Ba Phule. Today in UP many other organizations have followed Shruti and celebrate this day very solemnly.

Savitri Ba Phule Women’s Forum has initiated discussions on caste discrimination, gender discrimination, patriarchy, Brahminical oppression etc. and thus empowers the women members to withstand these evils.

Shruti severed District food and supply advisory committee of Varanasi as member appointed by Governor of UP.

Shruti’s younger sister Anupam, who is a divorcee had to return to her home. Her brother started troubling her even to the extent of physical violence, for the fear that she would claim for ancestral property rights, which would be his own if she were to remain in her in laws’ home. Shruti had to step in against her own brother and take legal action by which today her brother is out of home and Anupam is living a respectable life herself fighting against social exploitation of women. Shruti is the model for many women.

During the past eleven years Shruti has taken up around 3500 cases on women, children and Dalits Among these there were interventions by the Government, Commissions and administration (namely local panchayat administration) on almost three hundred cases. Out of these some two hundred cases had positive results. These are the cases taken up personally by her besides many other cases taken up on behalf of her organisation.

On women’s Day in 2003 (8th March), Shruti took up the case of the death of a woman named Sheela Devi, of Pandeypur falling under Varanasi Cantonment Police station. Sheela Devi underwent tubectomy operation and due to negligence of the Doctors in the District Government Hospital, she died. The Chief Medical Superintendent certified that she died of heart attack. But the post mortem report by Benares Hindu University (BHU) Medical College said that she died of peritoneal shock due to mesenteric over stretch, which occurred due to the negligence during the tubectomy operation. Shruti made a fact-finding enquiry and sent the report to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). And NHRC issued a notice on this case to Health Secretary of UP Government at Lucknow. The special Secretary of Health asked the District Collector of Varanasi to make an enquiry into the death and to take appropriate action. The allegation was found true through the departmental enquiry instituted by the District Magistrate, and the matter was noted in the character roll of the two Doctors and the nurses who were the culprits of this case. Based on this finding and verdict, Shruti filed a case in the consumer court for compensation on behalf of the widower of the dead woman. The case is progressing at present in the consumer court.

On 1st September 2003, 27 people belonging to the backward caste of Mataldey village in Rohaniya police station of Varanasi district were injured when police attacked them on the issue of a controversy between the upper castes over some land ownership.  28 people were sent to the jail. Among them three Shruti helped who were economically very poor for getting bail. Shruti did a fact-finding and the report was sent to NHRC on 27th Oct. 2003. This report was placed before the NHRC commission on 24th Dec.2003 and NHRC issued notice to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Varanasi. SSP has so far not sent the report, and so Shruti organized a press conference and other pressure tactics to pressurize the Police Administration to sent the report at the earliest to NHRC.

Bagwanala Case:

Bagwanala  is a slum in the suburb of Varanasi city. The land here belonged to the King of Varanasi. When zamindari abolition act was being implemented the King donated the land to a muslim man. The latter gave shelter to people of Rajbhar caste, (a very low Dalit caste). Some mafia were organizing casino in the place with the support of the local police. The police used to earn around Rs. 20,000 per month from the casino players and the mafia. Shruti through various meetings at the Community centre and through community interventions succeeded in putting a stop to the casino. The police became upset because they were deprived of their income and were waiting for an opportunity to teach a lesson to Shruti and her supporters in the village.

On 22 July, 2002 Naseem, son of the muslim leader, who had accommodated the Rajbhars in the slum, came drunk to the slum and made quarrel with the people on the issue of demarcation of land boundary. He not only desecrated the Shiv Linga, which is sacred to the people of the slum but also caused harm to it, placed in the community centre. People of the community did beat up Naseem. The event could have turned into a major communal riot. The activists of communal parties reached the spot to add fuel to the fire. But Shruti and her colleagues intervened and made peace in the community. Naseem later brought the police to the village at 11 p.m. at night. The police too tried to create a communal riot by provoking the villagers with abusive language and heaping many insults on them. Police scolded Shruti in highly abusive language and threatened to physically destroy her.  On 26th July the community members made protest rallies and organized press conferences asking the administration to take action against the local police. On 28th of July on the instruction of the SSP, the local police officer called Naseem, Shruti and the community members for a meeting and made peace and reconciliation and also asked pardon from Shruti and from the people of community for the police’s misbehavior. Thus Shruti’s involvement helped in solving the issue relating to the land disputes, casino, and unnecessary disturbance from police and a communal riot. Now Baghawanala is model for child right centric ghetto of urban area.     

0 Shruti wrote many article in Hindi and English. Her article about corporal punishment of Dalit Mushar children in school of Pindara,Varanasi in India published in sarokar.net and then published on editorial page of National Hindi daily ‘Jansatta’, which became suo-motto  petition by  High Court of UP.Intervention of High Court brought the justice and hope for dalit children.

0 Shruti along with Dr. Archana Kaushik of Delhi University wrote an article on weavers of Varanasi, which is translated in to French by Mr. Ben Deboc.  http://www.pvchr.net/2011/08/tisseur-de-reve-vie-de-cauchemar.html