Army officer’s daughter walks from Kanyakumari to Kashmir for women’s safety
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Army officer’s daughter walks from Kanyakumari to Kashmir for women’s safety

Srishti Bakshi undertook a 3800 km on-foot journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir to mobilise communities to make India a safe country for women.

india Updated: May 23, 2018 18:55 IST
Naina Arora
Naina Arora
Hindustan Times
Srishti Bakshi,Women Empowerment,Amitabh Bachchan
Srishti walked through Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab as well as J&K as part of her journey. She walked on an average of 25 – 30 kms a day, meeting between 150 – 200 everyday.

“Why don’t you visit our country, it’s beautiful?” Srishti Bakshi asked her business associates in Hong Kong once. “Because your country is not safe,” they had retorted. That conversation became the driving force for the 31-year-old marketing professional to undertake a 3800-Km journey on foot across India from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, with a vision to create awareness on women’s safety.

Bakshi’s incredible journey, which was part of the CrossBow Miles campaign, has been lauded by many, including actors Amitabh Bachchan, Sushmita Sen and Dia Mirza, whom she also met in Mumbai. “He is such an incredible human being, a superstar. I met him at his residence. He also clicked a picture, and tweeted. It was an incredible experience because he truly believes in citizen participation,” she says, adding excitedly, “He also said that ‘We have to work together’.”

In her eight-months arduous journey she met more than 150 people every day, as she walked from 4.30am to 12.30pm, with support of a 12-member crew. She walked on an average of 25 – 30 KM a day, and sometimes walked through the night.

Bakshi, daughter of Lt. Gen Ashwini Bakshi (Retd), says, “I am an army officer’s daughter and I felt humiliated every time someone called India unsafe. I found myself sitting across dinner table with Americans, Australians, and Southeast Asian where I was constantly reminded of safety concerns for women in India. I used to debate and throw numbers that there is violence across the world. But it’s a debate you tend to lose.” Incidents like Bulandshahr gangrape also affected her deeply.

The journey outward was also an inward journey of sorts. “It was a discovery at various levels. The experience was enriching, and still makes me teary-eyed. My learning is that the violence on the minority and silence of the majority is perpetuating crime. When you ignore a social crisis, you [become] a part of it. So I decided to walk to find implementable solutions,” says the graduate of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

Besides crediting her husband, in-laws and family, she says it was the people that she met who inspired her to “keep walking”. She recalls an incident, “There was this lady in Tamil Nadu, who sells custard apple on the side of the road. She said ‘I know what you have set out to achieve is not achievable in my lifetime. But, I know my daughter will benefit from it’.”

Srishti educates girl during a workshop.

When she was not walking, she was using other tools to spread awareness, such as workshops on women’s safety and empowerment through financial and digital literacy. “[For digital workshops] we’d speak to a diverse crowd [comprising] government schools, college girls, and women, focusing on reporting crime, digital literacy, gender equality at home, and one’s rights. In the city areas, we’d appeal to the youth to make a difference in the areas we can,” says Bakshi, who now hopes to present her research findings to President Ram Nath Kovindto convey the “sentiment of the nation” to him.

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First Published: May 23, 2018 18:54 IST