A CLEAR sense of being failed by leaders – almost bordering on betrayal – was apparent among quite a considerable section of the members of Bachda, Bedia, Sansi and other communities involved in traditional flesh trade who had gathered in the State Capital to participate in the first ever State-level convention of the communities.
Leaders on the other hand squarely blamed the State Government for neglecting issues of the communities and not taking any concrete action despite the High Court’s intervention.
Chandra Prabha, a very active member of the society (former Janpad member) from Patharia in Sagar district was clear in her assertion that leaders – mainly Champa Behan, chairperson of the Bachda Bedia Sansi Jati Vikas Mandal and Ram Sanehi, member of this board – had failed to come up to the expectations of the community.
She said leaders mainly harped on moral policing and actual policing – getting the women out of trade mainly by use of legal action, but without any proper rehabilitation or alternate employment arrangement, the entire effort was coming to a null with most of the `rescued’ women going back to the trade. She said leaders had also failed to take community members into confidence while seeking Government intervention.
She was emphatic in her demand that a community member should head the board that was meant for their welfare. Several other participants of the convention supported her voice. The activists who are supporting the community member in the endeavour also agree that there is discontentment among people about their present leaders.
Putting up his point of view – Ram Sanehi of Vimukt Jati Abhyuday Sangh, Morena – who was instrumental in getting the Jabali scheme drawn up through a PIL in MP High Court – mentioned that although livelihood was an important question it was mainly the question of infusing self-esteem among community members so that they have the urge to give up the profession and stay away from it.
He said the State Government had utterly failed to implement the Jabali Scheme that envisaged rescue, rehabilitation, alternate employment opportunities and old age sustenance. He added the scheme was askew and he had drawn up a ‘revised Jabali scheme’ that called for 100 seat ashram for the community children at every district, facilities of the higher education and training at division level and other rehabilitation measures.
Efforts at the community level to come out of the age-old stigmatic profession have been very scattered until now. A recent initiative by Bhor – the ActionAid organisation - has brought about a clear awareness in community members with the establishment of the Bachda Bedia Ekta Manch.
The organisations held divisional level meets that concluded with the State-level convention on Friday to press for demands of inclusion into the list of Scheduled Tribe and proper implementation of the Jabali Scheme.
The awareness level among participants was clear. Although the convention did not yield much for them, it was indeed a beginning in right earnest.