By SHABNAM CHOUDHURY
The 16th death anniversary of Late Yamin Hazarika, former DCP, Delhi Police was commemorated at a solemn function at Guwahati’s Maria’s Public School on July 24, 2015. The event, organized by Women’s Hub, a collective of women professionals was anchored by Tinat Atifa Masood who set the tone of the event. A one-minute silence was observed in memory of Late Hazarika. This was followed by a piano recital by students of the school – Syeda Tasnif Mahmood, Jannat Rahman, Masoom Tamanna and Kannaki Gogoi, and their music teacher, Pauting Kaurinta.
Nellie Ahmed Tanweer, the managing trustee of the school welcomed Nirupama Borgohain, Sahitya Akademi Award winning writer and Sanjoy Hazarika, noted journalist who were the guests of honour. She addressed the gathering with a brief introduction on Yamin Hazarika, a trailblazing police officer who served in crucial positions in the country’s capital, New Delhi. She said, “If Late Yamin Hazarika had lived for more years she would have contributed even more. Her life is an inspiration and she has set an example for the younger generation.”
Late Hazarika was an avid reader and second of the siblings passed out from Pine Mount School Shillong and later joined Indraprastha college in Delhi. Later she was selected in 1977-1978 batch of DANIPS. There she met Rajiv Sharma from the Haryana cadre. She was the Assistant Commissioner when late Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Later she was promoted to DCP and posted at the crime against women cell. She initiated skills to impart skills to women with disabilities. It was in Bosnia where she was diagnosed with her ailment. She later succumbed to cancer on July 24th 1999. “She was a brave soldier in all battles of life. Yamin Hazarika will remain a true role model for all women till eternity,” said Tanweer.
A panel discussion on women empowerment preceded the event. Sarah Hilaly, professor of history at the department of History, Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar moderated the panel discussion which touched upon a whole range of issues related to women. She too spoke about Yamin Hazarika that she stands as an epitome of women at that particular time. She then called upon women from different profession to speak on the challenges women face in their profession.
The panelists included Nahid Islam, consultant psychiatrist, Sriparna Baruah, entrepreneurship motivator, Farddina Hussain, Faculty, Department of English, Gauhati University, Amvalika Senapati, lawyer and disability rights activist, Kismat Bano, theatre artiste and Amina Ahmed, a faculty of psychiatric nursing.
Kismat Bano spoke about her journey to theatre from her graduation days. She spoke about the difficulties she faced being a Muslim Rajasthani girl to get into theatre. She attended a workshop under the guidance of Baharul Islam and Bhagirathi. She then directed a play on Helen Keller and bagged an award as young artist. She says she plans to start her own library.
Farddina Hussain spoke about how girl child grows up in a cultural set-up and women’s experiences in the developing countries. She said each one of us can contribute to the role of empowering the girl child. She said that we should all work for a girl child in the periphery.
Sriparna Baruah, being an entrepreneurship motivator said it is important to recognise a person who had ventured into a profession. Getting into an unconventional area is a hurdle for a woman. Women are less than 20 % who have taken up as entrepreneur. Major challenges a woman faces have 3 key issues: 1) Bottom of pyramid that is at grassroots level 2) At small sector semi urban areas and 3) Start-ups, where idea becomes important. She said the qualities required are one should take risks, be persistent, never be complacent. Women require a great need to bear stress to multi-tasking to start off with entrepreneurship. According to her best manager in world is a housewife as she manages resources. Same is required for an entrepreneur. A woman has to be more efficient than an average woman is what she feels.
Amvalika Senapati spoke about the challenges women with disabilities face. They belong to a marginal population and are always sidelined. Double layer of disabilities as it is clubbed with caste issues. Larger dropouts are among girls after they attain puberty related to development issues not able to maintain hygiene. No access to education leads to less access to employment. She said we rarely think about women with disabilities as sexual being. Sterilisation is enforced on them. This is abusing the rights to women by taking away her right to reproduce. This leads to a bigger chance to divorce. 80% women are unemployed compared 40 % men with disabilities.
Nahid Islam said her areas of interest are mental health issues related to women. To be free of disease an optimum level of mental health is required. Statistics show depression has risen above all disabilities. Women suffer major burden of depression 60% as compared to 30% of men. In women, there is associated hormonal changes. Cultural rituals and impositions on girls once they attain puberty is a major barrier on mental development. Under conservative patriarchal mindset the women have to let go of the emotions. Post-partum depression is also very common, around 25% in lower socio-economic class. Post-menopausal state also being the passing state. She says to be aware and confident of one’s potential is important for a woman. Even male members of the society have to change their outlook for women to attain their potential. She concludes by saying that she is fortunate to have achieved what she had always aspired for.
Amina Ahmed, lecturer in psychiatric nursing said she belongs to remote area where communication is difficult. She said she received a lot of motivation from her parents. She said when she was 11 years old, the area where she lived got eroded and they had to relocate. She later joined nursing and completed BSc nursing and special training in Psychiatric nursing.
The award ceremony began with the guests of honour taking their place in the dias. Huma Hazarika Sharma, daughter of late Yamin Hazarika and Shamim Hazarika, mother of late Yamin Hazarika. Sanjoy Hazarika said that he knew Yamin since her school days. He recalls her as a great person and that she had a very relaxed voice. He said she loved food but it didn’t show on and that she had a great sense of humour and adventure. He called her a pioneer. “Being a mild-mannered Assamese woman, she accomplished the tough task of dealing with rough men and order them around. Her determination to focus on crimes against women helped women a lot. She was a caregiver to people who had no hope. She would say women on streets are safer than they are at home as 50% of female children are abused by people they know at home.” He ended his speech with a prayer.
Sanjoy Hazarika added, “We remembered a remarkable person, Yamin, and her energy and enthusiasm as well as depth of struggles. The award is well-deserved and one that will honour more woman of substance in the future.”
Her mother Shamim Hazarika, the one of the first women car drivers of Guwahati speaks how she brought up Yamin and that her daughter was always a mild and a good obedient daughter. She said that her daughter was a constant good scorer in studies and sports.
Huma Hazarika spoke about how she used to at times accompany her mother. She said how her mother wanted to work for the eradication of dowry. She recalls an incident where the victim was a man and how he was accused of dowry on baseless points. When Yamin Hazarika supported the man she was even abused by the other members, irrespective of the majority because her mother always felt that ‘All are equal in the eye of law irrespective of man or woman’.
Yasmin Ahmed sister of Yamin Hazarika recalls about her sister saying that she remained a humble human being and triumphant. She gives a message to her sister’s two children to live up to the legacy of their mother.
Then the Yamin Hazarika Memorial Woman of Substance award, 2015 was presented by Sahitya Akademi Award winning writer Nirupama Borgohain and senior journalist, writer and activist Sanjoy Hazarika to Indrani Raimedhi, writer columnist author and journalist of 25 years.
In her speech, Raimedhi says that she had formed an impression of late Yamin Hazarika as a warm and compassionate being. She says gender is a social construct and it defines different roles. She believes Yamin Hazarika belongs to that group of feminists who are not very keen to get the share from male dominated society but to be an agent of change to transform the society with her work. She says she would dedicate her next book to the memory of late Yamin Hazarika.
Nirupama Borgohain, Sahitya Akademi award winning writer said that a lady with such a beautiful smile can never die. She says that it is very unfortunate to have not known her and that she will certainly wrote about late Yamin Hazarika. She says that she passed her matriculation in the year 1948 and recalls her school days with mother of Yamin Hazarika.
Dhrubajyoti Saikia, vice-chancellor of Cotton College State University was a very close friend of late Yamin Hazarika. Though they were in different schools but would get together for socials. She was full of cheer and warmth. He says her memory will always live together and social she will ever be an inspiration for younger generation.
Journalist with NewX, Afrida Hussain concluded the event with her vote of thanks. And as a befitting tribute to this fine police officer, everyone stood up and sang the national anthem to the subtle tunes of the piano in the backdrop.
Shabnam Choudhury is a dental surgeon working as a consultant dentist at ESIC Hospital, Beltola, Guwahati.