11 May, 2021

Dial D For Denims

Muzaffarnagar girls are standing up for their jeans and cellphones

Jitender Gupta
Dial D For Denims

“Come to Purkazi at 10 am,” Rehana Adeeb says over the phone. “We’ll be going on a protest march to the district magistrate’s office in Muzaffarnagar.” The protest is against a khap panchayat’s recent ruling, banning women, especially young and single ones, from using cellphones. Purkazi is about 24 km from the district headquarters, and a mini-bus has been hired for the occasion. Over a dozen young women, most of them in their teens or early twenties, are climbing in with the cheerful bustle of a school picnic. Rehana, an activist who has been working for several years now in a district grown infamous for its ‘honour’ killings—between 10-13 murders of eloping couples a year on average—is making sure the girls are carrying the placards they have prepared earlier. Her NGO, Astitva, tackling mainly women-related social issues, is in a two-room tenement in one of Purkazi’s narrow lanes, where you only see women draped from head to toe in black burqas.

Not all the young...

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