ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Police Intimidation

We, the members of the Executive Committee of the Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS), write to you in shock in the face of our recent experiences of intimidation and harassment at the hands of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) during the XIIIth National Conference of the IAWS in Wardha at the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (MGAHV), from 20-24 January 2011. The IAWS (established in 1982) is an academic and professional association of nearly two thousand Women’s Studies scholars, teachers, students and activists. A south Asia plenary is an old practice of the IAWS – this time eminent writers and poets from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan spoke, for whom full clearance had been obtained from the respective ministries.

You can imagine our utter shock, therefore, when, completely unknown to ourselves or the university authorities, male police forcibly entered the premises of the Yatri Niwas Sewagram at 2:30 am on 24 January, where women delegates were staying and sleeping, demanding a ccess to any foreign participants who might be put up there. The next morning, when the valedictory session was being conducted, more police from the ATS e ntered the venue asking questions from those present. These personnel flouted all procedural norms. They did not contact the university authorities for permission to enter, nor did they ask to meet with the relevant offi cebearers of the IAWS in order to obtain whatever information they required. Instead, a fear psychosis was created in an academic conference invol ving large numbers of scholars and students, mainly women.

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