iconimg Friday, September 04, 2015

Debashish Sarkar
Jamshedpur, March 10, 2014
Pramila Patro, 32, appears to be a  simple housewife. But, her name strikes terror among the bootleggers across 52 villages along Jharkhand-Odisha border, about 125km from Jamshedpur. She and her all-women brigade in pink are, however, guardian angels for the rural women in the area for it has destroyed illegal hooch breweries in a dozen villages and enforced total ban on alcohol and other forms of substance abuse, saving thousands of families.

A 1000-member strong brigade will be known as Shaktirupa Gulab Gang from Wednesday after a special screening of Madhuri Dixit-Juhi Chawla starrer Gulab Gang here at Payal Cinema. The group has hitherto been known as Shakitrupa Sangathan but a visit to Chesire Home with well-known Madhuri fan Pappu Sardar has given them the new name and dress code (pink sarees) along with an invitation to the special show on Wednesday.

“We intend to open an ashram for old-age people and orphans and hence came to see the Chesire Home. We’re moved the way Home authorities and Pappubhai are taking care of mentally and physically challenged orphans here. We won’t be able to see Gulab Gang with the children here on Wednesday as we’re busy motivating village people to oppose any bid to buy their votes in lieu of drinks, money or such dubious methods,”Pramila told Hindustan Times.

“I feel if women come forward and take up the cause, anything is possible. I’ve started with Jaintgarh and now 1000 women from 52 villages have joined. We now want to work on child labour as we regularly see hundreds of boys working in hotels, roadside dhabas instead of going to schools,” reminded Pramila, a graduate from Thakurmura College.

The group may have endured the constant life-threats from hooch-mafia but it is still nursing the snub from Jharkhand government on World Indigenous Day on August 9 last.

“We’re invited by West Singhbhum social welfare officer for the facilitation ceremony at Morhabadi Ground on the day but our name was never called as I was not tribal. I myself went up the stage and suggested chief minister Hemant Soren the name of a tribal girl from our group Mallika Digi, but in vain. It was so humiliating,” lamented Pramila.

It all started when Pramila came to Jaintgarh after her marriage with Kameswar Das in 2006.

“I was shocked to see 8-10-year-old boys drinking, smoking and gambling there. I decided to fight this menace then and there. It was not easy for I was the first housewife in the area to venture out where women still keep their faces covered. My husband too objected initially, but with time he realized and now he is my biggest support,”said Pramila.