January 20, 2020
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Treading A Lonely Path

A solitary activist tries to douse the embers of the sati tradition

Treading A Lonely Path

NO one cares that he cares. But that doesn’t bother sexagenarian schoolmaster Ranjit Singh. Makeshift banner in hand, with anti-sati slogans loudly scribbled on them, he has taken on the task to revolutionise Jhunjhunu. To wipe the town clean of its efforts to rekindle the embers of a tradition long dead. And he fights this lonesome battle under the aegis of Jhunjhunu Nagrik Morcha—-a body that has very few to boast of as adult members.

 "I helped the women’s activists gather crowds when they came here to protest. But it was really tough," says Singh. That is an understatement. His efforts to mobilise a crowd of young girl students from the town’s college had resulted in the college’s principal threatening the students with suspension. "What amazes me is that this town has so many educated people and they are letting this happen under their noses without so much as raising a voice," the disappointed man observes.

 But for his students who holler against the yagna, this man’s anger against the glorification of sati would have found no voice. But his lessons to them against injustices have come in handy, he says. "Baba has said sati is bad. And we must do something when we feel that way about things," says young Neetika Janu. Too simplistically perhaps. But with confidence.

A young confidence that promises to grow. With time. And under the nurturing care of people such as schoolmaster Ranjit Singh.

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