Ninety-year-old Birma Devi is one of the people who called for a ‘satyagraha for men’ in a protest demanding gender-neutral laws and a separate ministry for men in the Capital on Saturday.
Birma, along with her grandson, joined scores of people who had gathered at Jantar Mantar in the city to protest for revocation of Section 498A (related to harassment of women for dowry)?of the Indian Penal Code.
Birma Devi was served with notice on April 1 this year for allegedly beating her grandson’s wife and asking for dowry. The grandson Praveen Rajoria, who accompanied her, told Mail Today, “My grandmother is in her 90s. At her age she is doing the rounds at the police station. My wife served us domestic violence notice after I told her to call off our marriage as it was not working for us. The law has become a revenge tool for wives to get back at husbands and their families.”
To join hands with Birma, a retired Delhi police official also participated in the protest claiming to have been falsely implicated in a case of sexual harassment, when he was working on an assignment to nab women involved in human trafficking.
Mahender Kumar Luthra, a retired ACP alleged, “After I busted the racket, there was a sexual harassment case filed against me by fellow female officers. Despite sufficient proof, their statements were considered to be gospel truth. My salary and pension were stopped. This year, I was freed of the charge by UPSC. Although I have received my salary, I am still waiting for the pension. I was so troubled that I even attempted to take extreme steps.”
SATYAGRAHA FOR MEN
Members termed the protest a ‘satyagraha for men’ to mount pressure on government and bring a change in laws. Participants from 20 cities – Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Lucknow, Kanpur, Bhopal, Indore, Bihar, Nagpur, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu, Delhi NCR and West Bengal had joined the protest.
Analysts say despite India being a largely patriarchal society as well as the male dominance in most spheres and rampant crimes against women, real examples of male inequality should not be dismissed. The silent protest was carried out demanding repulsion of 498 A, formation of Ministry for men and equal representation to men in law-making process, punishment for misuse of law and framing gender-neutral laws.
In a strange case, a 60-year-old man claimed that he had been ousted by his 55-year-old wife and now forced to live at Jantar Mantar and simultaneously attend court hearings.
“My wife ousted me from my house after 27 years of marriage and filed a divorce case. She also occupied my two flats worth crores and I am forced to live at Jantar Mantar. I have taken a small accommodation in Haridwar. Once I had a successful business, now I am living at the mercy of people,” said Anand. (name changed).
Amit Lakhani from Save India Family told Mail Today, “With thousands of people joining this protest, from over 20 different locations across India, the magnitude of law misuse is very evident. We have sent detailed memorandums to Prime Minister’s Office, Home Ministry, Law Ministry with our demands. We hope that the government will take the grievances seriously and with greater sensitivity.”