Forty year-old Bhau Saheb Bhawar of Maharashtra has toured the country on bicycle four times so far since 1993 to propagate the evils of dowry and female foeticide and infanticide.
He is pedalling through the length and breadth of the country for the fifth time and has covered an incredible 2.25 lakh km so far. But his cherished dream of seeing the country free of dowry, female foeticide and infanticide has not materialised.
“I am disappointed, but not disheartened. I will continue the expedition and create awareness among the people on these two major evils harming the whole society, throughout my life. This is my life ambition”, Mr. Bhawar says with firmness in his voice.
It was 22 years ago, when young Bhawar, hailing from Hasnabad village of Jalna district in Maharashtra, first underwent the trauma of the serious consequence of dowry demand during the marriage of his sister. This caused untold hardship to Bhawar and he took a vow that he will sacrifice his whole life to fight against the dowry menace. He felt that it was lack of awareness in society that was responsible for the prevalence of the evil practice of dowry and decided to create awareness among all sections of the society in the whole country.
He commenced his expedition in 1993 and completed it after 13 years covering the country three times. “It was a great experience and people, irrespective of religious, caste and regional affiliations gave patient hearing to the points raised by me. But the dowry and the female infanticide menace is very much deep rooted in the society, that a single man will not be able to root it out totally”, he claims.
Keeping idle in the village was not acceptable to Bhawar and he commenced his second phase of the cycle expedition in January 2007. He is angry that the educated were more prone for committing dowry-related offences. Further, more than villages which account for the social fabric, it is the urban and semi-urban areas where dowry crimes are reported.
Dowry harassment cases were reported in larger numbers in south India than in the northern parts of the country. Female foeticide would be eliminated by putting an end to the dowry harassment.
He points out three major factors as the stumbling block in eliminating dowry and female foeticide in the society. Primarily, women do not have the courage and conviction to fight against evils of dowry. The ‘inaction' of the government and thirdly, prolonged legal process do not bring any faith among the aggrieved sector.
He says that women should stand united and rise in one voice against such social issues. Government should initiate stringent action, like dismissing the government employees involved in dowry harassment cases. There are very good laws to check this menace and they should be effectively and judiciously enforced, he added.
Bhawar has planned to complete the present phase of the expedition by this year end. He has planned to write a book on his wonderful experiences after this. Later he has planned to undertake world cycle expedition. “This is also with a purpose. I will highlight the drawbacks of AIDS and harming environment”, he says with all eagerness.