From an elderly woman who stopped a mob from burning a petrol pump to an e-rickshaw driver who helped reunite a woman lost on the streets with her brother, a school which successfully handled cases of blackmail via social media to a woman who complained against dowry demands., here are some of the people who were presented with an achievement award by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on International Women’s Day.
When a mob of Jat agitators bent on torching a petrol pump landed in Gohana on February 20, an unlikely adversary faced them at the station. Blocking their passage and holding a “lath” in her hand, was 60-year-old Prem Devi.
Recalling the incident, Devi says, “They were torching everything in their way. I saw the staff at the petrol pump running. Fearing arson, people in my colony locked themselves in their houses. I knew if I didn’t do anything, they would burn down the pump and my colony. I thought about it and did what my heart told me to.”
For the next few hours, standing alone, the elderly woman tried to impress upon the mob the potential loss of life their actions would cause. “I kept explaining to them, but they didn’t listen. A man even lit a match to burn the pump but I kept on talking, explaining, cajoling,” she recalls.
Finally, the mob left. But CCTV footage of Devi negotiating with the mob caught the attention of local media. For showing exemplary courage in the face of a rioting crowd, the DCW awarded Devi on Women’s Day.
When Rajesh Kumar, an e-rickshaw driver in Kapashera, saw a woman with a child crying on the street late at night earlier this year, he inquired about her whereabouts. But the woman could not speak properly. With not much help from police, Kumar did something unusual. He took the young woman home. “My wife understood but everybody else was furious. My neighbours questioned my intentions. My landlord threatened to throw me out. But I was persistent. My conscience wouldn’t allow me to leave a helpless woman on the road,” says Kumar.
Two days later, the woman told him that she had been separated from her brother. Kumar then spent an hours everyday looking for a clue. One day, he saw a poster with the woman’s photo on it and her brother’s mobile number. He called up the brother and told him of her whereabouts and reunited them. Commenting on Kumar’s act, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal — who presented the award to him — said, “If every e-rickshaw driver behaves like him, Delhi will definitely be safe for its women.”
Apeejay School, Sheikh Sarai
Principal A P Sharma ensures that every student of his school has no more than 50 friends on Facebook. The reason — an increase in the number of incidents of students reportedly falling prey to blackmail through social media. His deft handling of a case of a girl being blackmailed by a college boy she had met on Facebook, got the school an award from the DCW.
“I had earlier handled 9 to 10 cases but this case was serious. The boy was asking the girl for Rs 6 lakh. He was unrelenting,” Sharma tells The Indian Express.
“We advised the parents to file a complaint with police. To avoid such incidents, we now follow two rules at the school. First, I have appointed gender monitors who inform me if a child’s friends exceed 50. Second, I tell students to share their account password with their parents.”
Ankita Singh got engaged in February last year and was to get married in November. All was going well until September when the boy’s family demanded Rs 5 lakh and a car as dowry. “My family tried to reason with them, but they didn’t listen. They found him another girl and fixed his wedding on the same day he was supposed to marry me,” recalls Ankita.
She went to police but no action was forthcoming. “Through the DCW, we got an FIR registered. Not only did the boy apologise, he returned the amount spent by my family for the wedding,” says Ankita. “Women usually don’t report such matters but Ankita did. Many girls came forward after hearing her story,” said DCW chief Swati Maliwal.