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Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 1, 2007

Sheila Didi is a popular women’s activist among the most deprived women of Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar. She was the former President of Nari Mukti Sangh, Bihar. She was arrested on 7 October 2006 at Aamjhor Village under the police limits of Lathikata, Sundargarh district of Orissa. The police fabricated cases against her in the name of waging war against the state. After the arrest they immediately shifted her to a nearby CRPF camp where she was tortured physically and psychologically for two days. Later she was produced before a magistrate court which allowed four more days of police custody. She was once again tortured physically and psychologically. She sustained injuries on forehead and stomach during the police torture. The police brutally tortured her constantly by inflicting severe blows on her legs and the soles of her feet. The police, after blindfolding her, kept on shifting her from one place to the other. She was interrogated by the teams of police from West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Since then she has been incarcerated in Rourkela prison. Her health has deteriorated as she has been denied any medical care. She hasn’t been given even a pen or a sheet of paper, let alone books or periodicals to read. After she was given bail in all existing cases on 11th July she was arrested again as soon as she came out of prison with more cases being foisted on her.

Sheila Didi belongs to a poor Adivasi family. A woman of courage and conviction, she was convinced about the need for building up a strong women’s movement as she realized that women in our country had to fight every step for their rights and freedom, to do away with the customs and traditions that treat her as an inferior being, a second class citizen. The founding of Nari Mukti Sangh along with a host of other women was the result of this realization.

Soon this organization developed into a strong women’s organization. Thousands of the most deprived women today are conscious about their rights. This organization has been consistently fighting all forms of patriarchy while at the same time resisting any kind of exploitation, domination or discrimination. Hundreds of women, along with Sheila Didi have become literate in the due course of empowerment of this real and genuine movement.

The condition of women in our country is so pathetic and wretched that if they stand on their own legs in order to move ahead in their lives, patriarchic oppression along with all kinds of attacks of the contemporary society will brow beat them to submission. It is in this context that Sheila Didi has evolved as a valiant and uncompromising leader of the oppressed women and waged several struggles for the betterment of their lives in these regions. It is highly deplorable and is a grim reflection of all of our sensitivity that this women’s activist who has emerged from the most oppressed rungs of Adivasi life and who worked day in and out to awaken thousands of oppressed women, has been incarcerated in the jail.

We demand that Sheila Didi be released immediately and unconditionally. In this context we urge you to intervene immediately and ensure that she receives proper medical care and relief. We also demand that she be treated as a Political Prisoner as she has been arrested and incarcerated for her convictions to fight for women’s rights. In this connection, we also appeal to you to join the fight against the continued incarceration of this senior women’s activist while demanding for her unconditional release.

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