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Voices of Santhal tribal in Chotanagpur are heard whenever there is a witch hunting or inter caste marriage or rape or land grabbed by greedy urban politest. Their voice again becomes rhetoric whenever leaders lead them taking advantage of their poverty and misery. Their words are to a lesser degree voiced and protested whenever they are ousted from own territory for urbanization or development. This practice of voicing tribal cases is an age-long tradition.
Of late, their songs, flutes, music, gay dance and dialects have also become our special tastes in occasions. However, this context is different and unheard. Voices of tribal women transpiring on walls.

Recently I visited some tribal villages in Purulia- an off-shoot of Chotonagpur plateau. Purulia is a hub of tribals of diverse groups and culture. I shall restrict to the voices of Nildi Majhi gram. A beautiful village is situated beneath a small hillock-Nildi. Nature and people live in together. There is always conflict and harmony between them. Amidst their natural life-style I was struck to the majestic walls of their houses. All houses are made of natural materials. These are mud-houses. Cleaned and attractively walls decorated with designs and arts. All those are creative objects of Santhal Women. I was spellbound how they make such wall murals with home-made ingredients. These wall paintings reflect the inner voices of simple women. They highlight the co-existence of nature with community. They portray the birds, flowers, animals and other living organisms surrounding their habitat. Those Santhal women are born artists. They have no formal art-training. They do not know the chemicals being used in wall murals. They only know to voice their feeling. They are peace loving guys. Eyes become cool to see their paints made from mud. Sometimes I feel those Santhal women are regarded un-skilled in every sphere. No body dares to share their skill-knowledge in city or towns giving them the task of creating murals. Their story remains unheard. Their culture, knowledge and values not being used in creating knowledge-based society.

 

 

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Nutandi is a tiny village in West Bengal, India. The village is dominated by Muslim population. There are about 650 Muslim women voters in this village. The darkest spot of Nutandi has been of denial right -ship to women .They are prohibited by males from casting vote.Surprisingly, Women of the village could not exercise votes in Elections since independence. The fact was no longer hidden,it came to the media during 2011. Again,it was surfaced recently.
It is difficult to get the reasons behind such cult. Women of this village do not wear full length Purdah(veils). It is not that women are prisoners confined to home only. I saw many of them  going to markets,banks ,health centers and other places. There are a good number of educated people living here. There are also a good number of girls enrolled in primary school. The village is well connected with nearby towns. Despite , age-long tradition is going on there.  Women would not participate in the Election process. Most interestingly, Last year a woman of this village was  contestant to a local government,surprisingly the very lady did not cast her own vote. In fact, women have been living here in a low profile with inherited inferior status. The tradition of the village is ‘hidden wife is a good wife’. Males are not ready to give power to the women.

In above situation, Lutfunnessa-a young lady revolted. She gave a call for change. she stood amidst adversity and criticisms. She is the first women in Nutandi who cast vote since independence(1947).. Following her pursuits,thirty women came forward and slapped the orthodox rules of the community.

Lutfunnessa has been awarded by the Election Commissioner.

 

We shall overcome

We shall overcome

 

 

Ajan for freedom from Gohara Bibi stirred the whole Nutandi village. I experienced a new reflection day before yesterday at Nutandi. I saw and witnessed a dazzling look further than I could imagine. Jahanara Bibi danced with brave gestures, throwing hands, and showing fists in front of us. She did not hesitate to speak her inner voice to the small gatherings. Surprisingly there were outsiders and male-members .I realized what Azadi is to the Muslim women of Nutandi. I perceived Azadi is boundless, spontaneous and vibrating. Now I am far away from Nutandi but the words of Jahanara Bibi still ringing in my ears. I am fortunate to meet Jahana a warrior against autocracy.
Two weeks back I discovered another rebellion against autocracy. She is Lutfunnesa. –a young guy around twenties by appearance. In a group, I saw her agitated. She reiterated loudly & emphatically in front of male counters pointing their slanting attitude, partition outlook to the women. She cautioned the males for their fatwa prohibiting women from casting votes. I was overwhelmed seeing a brave young guy out crying for freedom .On that day in the group she was the single women. I admire her boldness and call for women empowerment. On returning back, I enjoyed telephonic talk with her. She is adamant and vowed to cast vote on 7th May… She wants to give a lesson to the orthodox people. On my query, she referred to a college girl. Who will defy male’s fatwa this time.

Utpal Ghosh – the able executive of Raghunathpur Block-11 took a challenge for Nutandi. Under his constant supervision every eligible women of the village has been provided with EPIC. Sri Ghosh initiated a good number of social projects in the villages. He has become a frequent visitor to the village. A new brand of energetic personnel have been put to the village to educate and empowering women. I heard that he had discussions with the Imam. , school teachers of the village and leaders of all parties for ensuring women participation in the election process.

Finally, he wanted civic bodies to operate in the village. Accordingly, to his call SHGs, Sri Arabinda Society, Manbhum Sanskriti Kendra came forward. Jagati Bagchi- a social activist is now in Nutadi. She is in constant touch with the women braving the sultry heat. Bagchi will not leave till election is over on 7th may.

Media has shown their interest on the issue. Their penning drew many to support Utpal Ghosh to this noble cause.

It is around 2-42 p.m. Paresh Majumdar along with Jagati returned. They are hopeful.

I am waiting to see the battle for empowerment of women in Nutandi tomorrow.