Harchand Singh Longowal was a former president of Akali Dal, during the most turbulent times in Punjab’s history i.e., the insurgency of the 1980’s. The inadequate recognition of Punjab’s people language and their heritage were the prime drivers behind the insurgency. The collision course of the revolutionary Punjabi’s and the Congress government led to some bitter moments in recent Indian history. In the most troubling times of Punjab’s history, Harchand Singh Longowal would provide commendable leadership qualities to steer the movement in a peaceful manner before putting an end to the collision course with a Peace accord signed between Harchand Longowal and Rajiv Gandhi. The peace accord would, however, infuriate a few radical Sikhs who go on to kill Harchand at point blank range.
Early Days & Emergency
Harchand Singh Longowal, from a small village of Punjab, got exposed to political activism during his formative age and he eventually became an important part of the Punjabi struggle for recognition when he became the president of the Akali organisation in Sangrur district and a member of the working committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal. The imposition of the emergency forced the people of Punjab to rise against the suppression of civil liberties and during the struggle as the senior leaders courted arrest, Harchand Longowal rose up the ranks of Akali movement.
Unfruitful negotiations with Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi’s efforts to paint Sikhs as seditious and anti-nationals proved to be disastrous wrt the negotiations between the Akali’s and the government. Despite the malicious campaign by the government, Longowal steadied the ship by categorically stating that Sikhs as much Indians as anybody else were. The lack of fruitful negotiations would result in multiple agitations that would result in multiple arrests, burning of article 25a of the Indian constitution and civil disobedience by means of not paying the dues to the government. What followed were some of the darkest days in Indian history which started with the Indian Army’s attack on Golden Temple.
Longowal’s accord with Rajiv Gandhi and death
Rajiv Gandhi ordered the release of Akali prisoners and thereby calming things down beside Rajiv Gandhi went on to take measures that would ease the economic woes of Punjab by establishing of the rail coach factory that would employ 20,000 skilled workers. These measures follow the memorandum which Longowal and Rajiv Gandhi signed. The Punjab accord as it is called was criticized by many Sikhs terming it disgraceful. Some Sikhs chose to vent out their anger by pulling the trigger on Longowal, the individuals named Leela and Halwinder Singh went on to assassinate Longowal.
How many women can say that they do not fear stepping out at night, even with a companion or in their vehicles? The number is negligible. Not only during late hours but even in broad daylight women have a sense of fear in them – a fear of harassment or molestation and a fear of being stalked.
This happens despite us coming a long way since our first steps on this planet. We currently inhabit a world that is much more open to women’s participation in social, economic and political spheres. More women are breaking household shackles and taking the route of a corporate lifestyle. More women are stepping out of their houses to work, to drive cars and bikes, to go for a nice dinner with their other female friends.
However, a lot is yet to be achieved. Women are still in harm’s ways, especially on roads. It is no secret that there are more male drivers than their female counterparts? Is driving a car or riding a scooter something women cannot do? No. The reason for the low number is our society’s attitudes toward female drivers and women’s fear of harassment or being stalked on roads.
Even after 70 years of independence, Indian women are yet to enjoy real freedom on roads. Crime against women has doubled in the last decade.
To ensure their safety, women have taken the course of self-defence. What can be done when a woman riding a scooter is whistled at or followed back home? More often than not, they carry with themselves small items of safety like – swiss knives, pepper or chilli sprays. But what happens if they forget to keep the pepper spray in their bag? Or when a harasser comes, they have to waste time scavenging through their bag to find the small bottle buried deep inside? Self-defence techniques come in handy only when they are available at easy disposal.
To ensure the safety of women riders, CEAT has come up with an innovative idea. They have integrated the grip of their scooters with pepper spray holders. This way, the spray is always at disposal and when in need, a woman doesn’t need to search through her bag.
The idea has manifold advantages. One does not need to consciously remember to put the spray in one’s bag each time before stepping out of the house. A bottle of spray is always fitted to the scooter.
#CEATSafetyGrip campaign is a unique step toward women empowerment. Its success will definitely aid thousands of women riding alone on roads.