The day started with the scream within me that I was getting late for field work. Around 10am, I reached Gender Resource Centre (GRC), Narela from where Child Survival India (CSI) NGO office works. I found a van inside the campus on which “Delhi Mahila Aayog” was written in the Hindi language. I was thrilled as I have always heard about Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) in the news but for the first time, I was going to work with them.
I met the DCW counsellor, Savita in GRC and she told me they are getting calls and will leave soon to solve those issues. The first request was from Habiba, a resident of Pocket-7, Sector- 10, Narela. Habiba was earlier a Hindu girl, Renu before marrying a Muslim guy, Mobin. They had a love marriage when Mobin got into the habit of consuming bhang etc.
We reached their home and found a big lock on it. We asked the neighbours about Habiba’s whereabouts but they had no idea about her from last three days. We were in shock and called her on the mobile. She replied she is in the Narela Police Station. Savita patiently answered her that we are coming there. When we met her, we was informed that three days back, Mobin beat Habiba and then she ran away to her friend, Sapna’s home. We came to know that Mobin has got arrested now. Savita asked her if she was ready to take some serious action against this. Habiba responded that Mobin should give a written statement that he will not harass her physically as she was three months pregnant with her first child and she was worried about her child’s health and own her life.
In return, Mobin also asked for a written statement from her that she will not run away from the home, and if she fails to keep this promise intact, then he will not live with her. He also requested our team to convey a message to Habiba in the better way that she should not be friendly with the wrong people, or people whom he disliked. She agreed to this immediately. With a big smile on her face, she told us that recently Mobin has gifted her a beautiful dress worth Rs. 3000 and has changed a lot for good now. This was a great moment for the team.
But I soon realized how one feels in the non-AC van when Delhi’s weather is so hot, and van gets stuck in traffic as we were moving from Narela to Rithala. The ladies suffered heat strokes one after the other, but there was nothing that could be done. After a quick lunch, we made a call to our next complainant, Meera Devi from Sector-1, Rithala and asked her to come to Police Station. She insisted on meeting at her shop of bidi-cigarette; her problem being that a Chowmein stall owner is harassing her to leave the place so that he can use that area. He along with his drunk goon friends abuses her publicly. She also said that she had filed a complaint in Police Station. Savita told her that if she has already filed it then also we need to go to the Police Station for follow-up but she declined by saying she cannot close her shop or leave it on someone, not even for an hour. Our efforts went in vein as the lady requested us to visit her in the evening. The DCW project works on the basis on 12 hours shift and after every shift, one team gets replaced by another as it’s a 24/7 running project. Then we conveyed the message to the next team and decided we will also follow up her case whenever we will get an opportunity.
Daya Basti, Bawana was next on the list, as we got a complaint from a lady named Mukesh that a neighbouring family has burnt her belongings. Her livelihood depends on the feri business. We took her in our van along with her son to the Police Station. In front of the women desk, four police officers were sitting. They asked Mukesh about the case but when Savita tried to address the issue, one of them started talking rudely. When she informed him that we are from DCW, he refused to hear her out by saying this was not a woman-related matter. Another Khaki man stated that did someone misbehave with Mukesh or what? so, why was DCW getting involved. But Savita did not lose hope and called the Sub Inspector who was handling the case and made sure that he noted the issue.
Some statements of those police officers were still disturbing me when they commented that in many cases, people call the women desk with fake women issues and when they reach the location they find cases of two brothers fighting, etc. It has not been validated for me so far but if that is true then the way public behaves in a very manner; police or woman organization will work out of no other option. My new understanding has developed a feeling of life revolves around a ‘Tit-for-Tat’ attitude.