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Oct 2018

Demolition of liquor shop earned her the title of ‘ hero of the city’
12:48 pm UTC

It is exceedingly difficult to fight against those indulging in illegal activities with their money and power. The fight put up by Rachana Kanher, Tanishka group head, at Hingna along with her other group members serves as an example of that. Despite strong support of public representatives, government system and the residents, they had to put up a great fight to get rid of an illegal liquor shop in a residential area. The story of Rachana's struggle is an inspiration in itself. Gajanan Nagar, located around Neeldoh, Deegdoh in Hingna, in the Nagpur district is a quiet residential area. One morning in July 2015, the residents had the shock of their life when they heard that a liquor shop was opening soon near the school and temple. People started protesting. Women were distraught. The real question, however, was 'who will bell the cat?' Who will take the initiative to fight against this? Rachana Kanher, the group head of Tanishka took a step forward. What she had with her were her organizational skills and firm support of her Tanishka group members. They started protesting within legal limits.

They realized that many laws were overlooked and necessary documents and signatures were forged in order to start the liquor shop. The building itself was illegally constructed. Tanishka members caught hold of this thread and based their struggle on that. The first battle to fight was with the police. The local police station personnel did not co-operate with them. As Tanishka members realized this, they went to the office of state excise superintendent as well as the district collector.

With every passing day, the support to this struggle started growing stronger. As shop-owners realized the ever-increasing women power, they started threatening these women through the back door. Many people were bribed, and some rumors were started in order to defame Rachana. Despite all this, Rachana did not give in, did not waver from her stand even one bit. She was instrumental in bringing these forged documents, forged signs, and following permissions into the public eye. She used the Right to Information (RTI) act very well for this purpose. She managed to get a staying order on the liquor shop from the collector’s office.

Despite all this, concerned people attempted to open the liquor shop by force in the night. Charges of breaking in and riots were imposed on these women when they tried to stop it. Whosoever had come for their aid, was taken into custody by the local police force. The ‘divide and rule’ strategy was also obviously seen when these protesting women were defamed. The entire liquor lobby was united against Tanishka. Politicians and officers kept giving false promises, and the liquor shop remained open. In such testing times, Rachana was firm. She took her plea to Chandrashekhar Bavankule, the guardian minister for Nagpur and state's power minister. From there, she also directly went to the CM Devendra Fadnavis. After all this, there were still no signs of the liquor shop closing down. A fight on multiple levels was not yielding any fruit. Rachana finally went to the court seeking justice. Tanishka intensified their struggle. After a year of fighting tooth and nail, the liquor shop was finally closed down in August 2016. The power and malice of liquor lobby was no match against Rachana's persistent fight.

Rachana became a part of Tanishka forum at its very beginning in 2013. She has been active in social work for the past four years. She has been instrumental in executing plastic ban, employment generation for women, a women's toilet in the weekly market, touring court of justice, etc. in her Taluk. All this was taken into consideration, and she was awarded 'hero of the city' title on the anniversary of 'Sakal.' Rachana's leadership journey seems to be going from constructive work to struggle. This struggle will undoubtedly test her leadership, and she will emerge glorious through it.

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