Pinjra Tod member talks about “savarna” allegations

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Pinjra Tod is a women’s collective in Delhi that has been operational since 2015, after a student of Jamia Milia Islamia wrote a letter to the Vice Chancellor, protesting against the 8pm curfew that had been imposed on only female students in the hostel. Since then, the collective (comprising of students/alumni from colleges all over Delhi) has been the only one of its kind to protest actively against early curfews for female hostel and PG residents, sexual harassment in universities, for making hostel accommodation affordable for women, and so on.

However, it has recently come under fire for allegedly involving only ‘savarna’ (upper-caste Hindu) women during decision-making. Nine members have recently broken away, releasing a statement (Feb 19, 2019) citing that it does not include OBC, ST, tribal, Muslim, and other marginalised women in the actual event of decision-making.

Muntaha Amin, a Pinjra Tod member and a Masters student (mass communication) from Jamia Milia Islamia, responds to the statement. She says, “I am a Kashmiri Muslim Woman. I personally have had no such experience. The decisions take place in open meetings in which the members get to participate and give suggestions about the plan of action, and through a consensus, decisions are taken.

“I cannot delegitimize the experience of the women who wrote the Statement, but I feel they don’t represent me as I did not feel excluded, and other Muslim women I know and am in very close contact with have similar feelings… All movements grow in political understanding, maturity, and in understanding the nuances of the issues and identities. Pinjra Tod has grown similarly.

“The statement having called Pinjra Tod savarna, I feel has erased queer, non-mainland, Christian and Kashmiri Muslim women identities from the group quite conveniently for the tag ‘savarna’…The concerns raised by the movement, I feel are not savarna issues but collective issues of us as women. I see it as a movement of women from different identities coming together to fight for some crucial issues faced by women throughout the country in today’s times. This space has given me space to assert and exercise myself as a woman…The sisterhood in Pinjra Tod for me has been the most positive energy and the most powerful space.

Having said all of this, these are my personal experiences… I don’t claim to represent anyone else.”

The collective is yet to release an official statement responding to the allegations.

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