Pink Chaddi Campaign

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Interview of Pink Chaddi Campaign activist Namita Malhotra, wherein she speaks about the movement's beginnings. (Courtesy: Frederick Noronha)

The Pink Chaddi Campaign (or Pink Underwear Campaign) is a nonviolent protest movement launched by Consortium of Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women[1] in February 2009 in response to notable incidences of violent conservative and right-wing activism against perceived violations of Indian culture, when a group of women were attacked in a pub in Mangalore. The campaign was a brainchild of Nisha Susan, an employee of Tehelka political magazine.[1][2] The campaign was conceived particularly in protest against a threat by Pramod Muthalik of the Sri Ram Sena (also spelled as Sri Ram Sene and Sriram Sena), an orthodox Hindu group based in Mangalore. Muthalik threatened to marry off and take other action on any young couples found together on Valentine's Day.

Background[edit]

On 6 February 2009 in an incident of moral policing a group of men who claimed to belong to Sri Ram Sena attacked a group of women in Mangalore, India. Later that month, Muthalik announced an action plan to target couples found dating on 14 February, Valentine's Day. He said "Our activists will go around with a priest, a turmeric stub and a mangalsutra on 14 February. If we come across couples being together in public and expressing their love, we will take them to the nearest temple and conduct their marriage.[3]

Reaction[edit]

After widespread outrage over his speech, the Bangalore and Mangalore police stepped up protection in public places and local hangouts, despite which there was an attack by the Sri Ram Sena on five women in a pub in Mangalore. Two women patrons were hospitalised in a critical condition.[4][5] Of 40 perpetrators, only three have been arrested so far.

On 9 Feb 2009, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said that "Sri Ram Sene is a threat to the country. The Centre is watching its activities with great concern"[6]

Pink Chaddi campaign[edit]

In the midst of the tension, a protest was started by a group of young women, called the "Pink Chaddi" campaign, where they urged a peaceful protest (described as Gandhian in the press[7][8]) to all of India, by sending pink underwear ("Chaddi" in Hindi) to Muthalik's office on Valentine's Day.[9] The novel form of protest was initiated by Nisha Susan, Mihira Sood, Jasmeen Patheja and Isha Manchanda[10] As the protest grew, underwear started pouring in from locations all over India in solidarity for the "Love Sena". Over 500 pink chaddis were couriered on Friday. Other cities collected hundreds of such chaddis and decided to courier them directly.[11] There has been a tentative truce established as Pramod Muthalik has expressed an inclination for a dialogue to resolve this issue.[citation needed]. Ostensibly, the chaddi (underwear) had been chosen as a symbol, since right wing groups like the RSS of India are derogatively called "chaddies" (short pants), which is part of the uniform that RSS members wear during their meetings.

Reaction to the campaign[edit]

The Pink Chaddi Campaign received widespread media coverage,[12] and the Facebook[13] group saw numbers of members growing exponentially in the following days.[citation needed] A few reports were also critical of the campaign accusing it of trivialising an important issue like attack on women.[14]

There was also political reaction to the campaign as supporters of RSS objected to use of pictures of RSS members on the campaign blog. RSS had criticised the Mangalore attack and favoured ban on the Sri Ram Sena. The blog owner removed the pictures of RSS members following this objection.[15]

A counter-campaign calling itself "The Pink Condom Campaign" was started by some unknown activists a few days before Valentine's Day.[16]

Preventive custody[edit]

As an additional precaution, Muthalik and 140 others of the Sri Ram Sena were held in preventive custody on Valentine's Eve.[17]

Facebook group defaced[edit]

Shortly after the campaign took off, the campaign's Facebook group began to be attacked by trolls. This has not stopped the group using Facebook as a positive social media tool to engage marignalised communities.[18][19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Geetanjali Krishna: A kick in the knickers". 14 February 2009. 
  2. ^ "Nisha Susan". 
  3. ^ Bangalore Bureau (6 February 2009). "We'll not spare dating couples on Valentine's Day: Muthalik". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 February 2009. 
  4. ^ "Shri Ram Sena Activists assault 5 Girls in Mangalore Pub, Amnesia". BreakingNewsOnline. Breaking News Online Pvt. Ltd. 25 January 2009. 
  5. ^ Sengupta, Somini (9 February 2009). "Attack on Women at an Indian Bar Intensifies a Clash of Cultures". The New York Times. p. 5. 
  6. ^ "Sri Ram Sene is a threat to the country: Chidambaram". The Economic Times (The India Times). 9 February 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2009. 
  7. ^ Herald Correspondent (22 February 2009). "Muthalik wants to start Ram Sene in Goa". Goa Herald. Retrieved 27 February 2009. [dead link]
  8. ^ Vishal, Anoothi (27 February 2009). "Yes, we can?". Business Standard. Retrieved 27 February 2009. 
  9. ^ BBC News: "Underwear protest at India attack". 
  10. ^ Nisha Susan (28 February 2009). "Valentine's Warriors". Tehelka (Tehelka). Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  11. ^ "Pink chaddis still keep coming in". Cities: Bangalore (The Times of India). 13 February 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2009. 
  12. ^ 'Pink Panty' Women Target Extremist Right Wing Indian Leader Fox News – 10 February 2009
  13. ^ "Facebook group". 
  14. ^ Roundup of comments from various blogs in English and Hindi Mishra, Gaurav (26 February 2009). "Hindi Blogosphere's Reactions to the Pink Chaddi Campaign Show the Divide Between Bharat and India". Gaurav Mishra's Weblog on Social Media & Social Change. Retrieved 30 May 2009. 
  15. ^ "Pink Chaddi Blog". 
  16. ^ "The pink condom folks portray themselves as "ordinary Hindus, who don't bark on television to defend their faith, but get hurt when some people bark against it." They are anonymous and started this campaign to counter the perception the RSS was behind the Mangalore incident. " "Chaddi, condom war approaches V-Day". Story (The Indian Express). 13 February 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2009. 
  17. ^ "Police crackdown: Muthalik, 140 others held ahead of Valentine's Day". The Times of India. 14 February 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2009. 
  18. ^ http://kafila.org/2009/04/12/arise-awake-the-people-who-run-facebook/ Arise, awake, the people who run Facebook
  19. ^ Staff Reporter (14 April 2009). "Moral police hack Pink Chaddi on Net". Online edition (The Hindu). Retrieved 14 April 2009. 

External links[edit]