US Consulate rejects visas to DDS members; women call for justice

US Consulate rejects visas to DDS members; women call for justice
Anishamma, Masanagari Mayuri, Jayasri Cherukuri and Mogulamma. Photo: Adula Krishna

Last month Deccan Development Society had won the prestigious Equator Prize that is given by the United Nations for the women sangams (groups). The...

Last month Deccan Development Society had won the prestigious Equator Prize that is given by the United Nations for the women sangams (groups). The significance of this prize can be gauged by the fact that only 20 organisations around the world from 847 nominations and 127 countries were selected for this award. In India only DDS was selected for the prestigious awardfor the year 2019.

"While we were celebrating this success, the UNDP sent personal invitations to the members of the DDS community of women farmers requesting them to come for the Equator Prize Award ceremony to be held in New York between 19 – 26September,"says Jayasri Cherukuri, Co-director.

"It is also significant that the UN did not give this award to DDS as an NGO but as 'an outstanding example of a local, nature-based solution to climate change and sustainable development.'

Finding such solutions and initiatives must rightly belong to the women of DDS Sanghams who over the years, through their commitment and hard work have made these local solutions possible and raised to the level of recognition by the highest organisation in the world," informs Jayasri.

Jayasri also shares, "In recognition of the invitation by the UN to participate in the award ceremony in New York that specifically asked to designate two community representatives to participate in the award ceremony, and seeked their participation in community dialogue workshops, DDS has selected two outstanding community workers Anishamma, a community forester and Mogulamma, an outstanding organic farmer, who is also the President of All India Millet Sisters Network, and the youngest film maker of the community Masanagari Mayuri, who has the distinction of winning an award for being the youngest biodiversity film maker in Asia."

Anishamma says, "I am working in this community since when I was a young girl. I have been to five countries, but this is the first time I have been rejected. We are women farmers, and majority of us are Dalits.We talk about reservation and all but when it comes to doing something for us, they don't do."

"Being women, we are all working towards nature. I felt very bad when I came to know that I got rejected. If they had any issue with the community or in our paper works, they should have asked us, we would have provided the necessary information," says 49-years-old Anishamma.

The women opine that a cynical cold water was thrown on all their enthusiasm by the local visa office in the US consulate, Hyderabad when the women went to them for their visas. The reasoning for rejection was a simple statement -'you are not eligible', which is hard to fathom for the women, who continue to demand the reason for such irreverent treatment.

"We wonder if this was the reason why were they invited to come from the villages to the Consulate office. Why were the fingerprints were taken yesterday giving us the hope the visa process had started?

Today when the women went to Visa office for a personal interview and they just a curt issuing of rejection slip saying that according to Rule 214(b) you are ineligible." This is shocking to say the least. US which is supposed to be the leader of democracy in the World an the upholder of the Human Rights cannot simply trample over the rights of the people to genuinely travel to that country that too on valid invitation by the highest international body, United Nations.

This indicates that bureaucrats who handle the visa section display zero sensitivity to the poor and women in India and reject their right to personally receive a prestigious international award. We strongly protest this ill treatment of 3 outstanding dalit women from the deprivileged sections of the society who have worked very hard to merit an international recognition.

-Askari Jaffer

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