Thousands of women demonstrated under the banner of AIPWA in front of the Chief Minister on 19 March on the issues of education for women students, especially from dalit and weaker sections, increasing violence against women and attempts by the administration to shield the culprits, and justice for the victims. The protest march started from Gate Public Library, proceeded to the Vidhan Sabha and culminated in a meeting at Gardanibagh addressed by AIPWA leaders Comrades Meena Tiwari, Shashi Yadav, Saroj Choube, Anita Sinha, and Sohila Gupta, Rita Barnwal, Savitri Devi, Madhuri Gupta, Madhu, Indu Singh, Sona Devi, Pramila Devi, Sanichari Devi, Malati Ram, Juhi Alam, as well as Kusumi Devi, mother of Dika Kumari, the student killed recently in a Bihar school.
The speakers said that contrary to the Nitish government’s claims of empowering women, they are actually being attacked in various ways. Lack of adequate number of schools, lack of facilities in existing schools, insufficient number of higher education institutes in districts and inability of guardians to send their daughters to cities for higher education, and paucity of infrastructure and teachers in district level institutions are serious deterrents to women’s education in the State. Moreover, several cases of rape, murder, death due to lack of medical facilities, and molestation have come to light in Ambedkar and Kasturba Vidyalayas. In the Dika rape and murder case the police failed even to add sections under POCSO and gang rape and no charge sheet has been filed even two and a half months after the incident. The Nawada girl student was even forced to change her statement under threat. The speakers stressed their determination to continue the struggle on the issues of education, dignity and security. CPI (ML) MLAs comrades Mehboob Alam and Sudama Prasad as well as AIKM General Secretary Rajaram Singh also addressed the protestors.
The following are the demands of the protest:
1. Education up to Class 10 should be made available in all Kasturba Vidyalayas in Bihar.
2. Ambedkar Vidyalayas should be upgraded to class XII.
3. Arrangements for adequate number of teachers and resources in government schools.
4. Girls’ colleges to be opened in every block; teachers, libraries and laboratories for existing colleges.
5. Women’s Polytechnic Colleges in each district
6. Arrest without delay of the Principal of Ambedkar Residential School, Hajipur, who remains free today even after FIR in the Dika rape-murder case; steps to be taken to add sections under POCSO and gang rape laws in the case.
7. Guarantee of charge sheet by police in the Dika case and justice for the victim family members.
8. Justice for victims in Narhat Kasturba Vidyalaya (Case No. 8/17 Hisua, Nawada); Akbarpur Thana Case No. 33/17; Bhagwanpur Thana (Vaishali district) Case No. 45/17; Desri Thana Case No. 45/17; Sahdei Thana Case No. 39/17; the 11February 2017 case in Pothiya, Katihar; and all other such cases.
9. Recognise honorarium workers as government employees and increase their honorarium to Rs 18000