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Rajan Choudhary: A man on a mission to save the girl child

Jhunjhunu/Jaipur: On February 23, a three year imprisonment was awarded to three people for having conducted sex determination test under Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT) in Rajasthan.

This punishment may seem to be a small one. But for the activists who have been fighting relentlessly for this cause, back in Rajasthan, this comes across as a major development. It raises the hopes of those activists that their mission of battling female foeticide, or in save the girl child in the desert state, is not directionless.

Guess what? This was a case which was heard in PCPNDT court and investigated by PCPNDT Bureau of Investigation. Yes, you heard that right. Rajasthan is first state in country, where a bureau of investigation for female foeticide cases, has been set along the lines of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). This special bureau comprises of 40 to 50 staffs and it reports to Mission Director of National Health Mission Navin Jain, who is an IAS officer.

“Sixty decoy operations have been conducted in Rajasthan since 2009. Most of these cases have been registered at the PCPNDT court. Last year (2016-17), maximum 30 decoy operations get conducted in the state,” informs Rajan Choudhary, the secretary of a non-government organization (NGO), Sikchit Rozgar Kendra Prabandhak Samiti (SRKPS) in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan.

The 54-year-old activist, has helped the state administration successfully conducting 50 out of 60 decoy operations, across the state.

Rajan, who also happens to be the Bureau Chief of a Jhunjhunu-based vernacular daily, is better known as a saviour of the girl child, than a scribe.

The journalist-turned activist has a full-fledged team to help him out in his mission. On any given day, he has a pregnant lady, his assistant posing as her husband and Rajan. The trio frequents various centres to conduct the decoy operations. He has played a pivotal role in conducting decoy operations in Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Navalgarh and Jaipur area.

“We first do a recce on centres that do the sex determination test. This is done by taking the middle man into confidence. This is because most centres conduct the sex determination tests only for people, referred by their trusted middleman,” says Rajan, while explaining his modus operandi.

Rajan Choudhary

“This year PCPNDT cell of Rajasthan has conducted 10 inter-state decoy operations also. Of which, five was conducted in the neighbouring state of Gujarat,” he adds.

The social activist says further that conducting decoy operations and getting accused punished has never been easy. He maintains that most doctors not only have money, but strong connections among leaders and ministers.

“Our first decoy operation was conducted on December 13, 2009 in Jhunjhunu. And district administration officials had caught the President of Indian Medical Association (IMA) Dr. Brajendra Singh red handed,” recalls Rajan.

He said that later, Dr Singh, bribed the pregnant lady of his team. Not only that, the doctor even offered a meaty bribe of Rs 50 lakh each to the district administration officials along with me, but we refused. However, the lady turned hostile, and he was let away without any punishment.

But, the very first case, turned out to be a major learning experience for Rajan and his team. “Now the pregnant ladies accompanying us are government employees. Every time we have to conduct decoy operation, we look out for bold, pregnant ladies from the government department and request the officials to send the lady to accompany us for operation. Now there is no chance of being hostile,” he pointed out.

From time to time, Rajasthan government has also pushed the cause. In 2012, a Mukhbir Yojna (Informer Scheme) was announced, where those who helped the officials in conducting decoy operation were given a cash price of Rs 50000 for each case. The prize amount has now been increased to Rs 20000.  Under this scheme, the payment is made in phases — 40 percent after the operation, 40 percent when the charge-sheet is filed and remaining 20 percent after case verdict is passed.

Being actively involved in decoy operations, Rajan is party to 25 cases.

“We also try to ensure conviction in such cases, and for that I invariably, have to spend two to three days spend in courts. In future you will hear that more people get punished, who are under trials in PCPNDT related cases in Rajasthan,“ claims Rajan.

With time passing by, consistent decoy operations, has started to yield results too. “In past six years, in Rajasthan, our efforts have saved around 1.5 lakh girl child. According to 2011 Census, everyday 218 less girls were taking birth, but during 2016-17, only 118 less number of girls are taking birth,” he claims.

The Additional Superintendent of Police, in-charge of PCPNDT Cell, Raghuveer Singh, has all praise for Rajan and his team, “We are working with a mission and Rajan plays an important role in it. Because of his tireless efforts, we have been able to save large numbers of girl child, as our every operation leave some message of the people who are involved in the sex determination crime.”

Seeing the contributions of Rajan and his NGO, President of India will be awarding SRKPS with Naari Shakti Samman award on international Women Day, March 8.

Shahnawaz Akhtar

is Founder of eNewsroom. He loves doing human interest, political and environment related stories.

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