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Campaign for Women's Reservation Bill launched

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Woman power: ANHAD activist Seema Dohan, All India Democratic Women's Association general secretary Sudha Sundararaman, ANHAD activist Shabnam Hashmi and National Federation of Indian Women secretary Gargi Chakravarty at a press conference on
Woman power: ANHAD activist Seema Dohan, All India Democratic Women's Association general secretary Sudha Sundararaman, ANHAD activist Shabnam Hashmi and National Federation of Indian Women secretary Gargi Chakravarty at a press conference on "Campaign Reservation Express" in New Delhi on Saturday.

Staff Reporter

Caravans to travel round the country from May 20 to June 7

NEW DELHI: The demand for reservation for Muslim women is a ploy to scuttle and delay the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill, said All India Democratic Women's Association general secretary Sudha Sundararaman here on Saturday.

Speaking at the launch of Campaign Reservation Express, which will travel to 56 cities and towns across the country in support of the Women's Reservation Bill, Ms. Sundararaman said: “All women across States and the entire country are supporting the Bill. Many Dalit and Muslim women also want the Bill to be implemented as everyone stands to gain from it.”

“Since March 9 when the Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha, attempts have been made to confuse the issue. The matter of reservations for Muslims is separate and is being used as a means to prevent the passage of the Bill,” she added.

Participation of women in panchayats had strengthened the movement for women's empowerment, said National Federation of Indian Women secretary Gargi Chakravarty. The opposition to the Bill stemmed from the fight between two kinds of ideas -- conservative forces and those who wanted implementation of the Bill.

Shabnam Hashmi of Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD) said: “It is true that the representation of Muslims is very less. But this is the matter for a separate struggle and has to be brought up in Parliament. We demand implementation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission report.”

“Why was the issue not brought up before? Those who believe that it is the job of women to sit at home are now demanding reservation for Muslim women.

These are efforts being made by those not wanting the implementation of the Bill,” she added.

The Campaign, which has been conceived and initiated by ANHAD and supported by a host of other organisations, will witness three caravans travelling round the country from May 20 to June 7.

Three routes would be followed during the Campaign. While the first would cover Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Delhi, the second would traverse Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The third route would traverse Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

As part of the Campaign, public meetings, conferences and cultural programmes will be hosted by local organisations in which women leaders, artists, intellectuals and civil society members will participate. Some young film-makers are expected to document the campaign.

Besides acting as an instrument of mobilising support for the Bill, the Campaign is also being touted as a means to raise voice against communal violence and other evils that afflict the society.

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