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Kanyashree Scheme, the brainchild of Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee, has not just been a hit as an idea the world over, specially recognized by UN, but also is showing results at the ground level. The Kanyashree Brigade, that was also set up in different district blocks with school girls, to stop any under-age marriage through persuasion and protesthas succeeded in taking cudgels against a social evil and recently prevented a minor girl’s marriage.

These girls, all Class XI students of Basudebpur Maharaja Nandakumar High School and members of Kanyashree Brigade, have pledged to improve the life and status of girls belonging to economically backward families,by sensitizing them about the ill effects of marrying off their girls before 18 years.So, when they learnt that their classmate, Sushmita Khanra, was being pressurized by her parents to get married, they went to meet her. Sushmita sounded rather low and insisted she was reluctant to marry and instead wanted to continue her studies.

The girls immediately chalked out their next action plan. They first met Sushmita’s father, Sachin Khanra and tried to reason with him but to no avail. Nothing could change his mind.  The girls then decided to meet the Block Development Officer (BDO) Abu Tayeb who was very proactive and once he heard the girls’ complaint, he immediately headed for the Khanras’ house. The Khanras are very poor and struggle to make ends meet. Sushmita’s father cannot afford to pay for her studies and hencefixed the wedding. The BDO stalled the wedding, but the Kanyashree Brigade was not convinced. The girls made him promise in writing that he would not get Sushmita married before she attains adulthood. The BDO also promised to arrange for funds from the Panchayat so that Sushmita can pursue higher education.

The nodal officer of East Midnapore Kanyashree Project, Sharmistha Chatterjee was very upbeat and praised the Kanyashree brigade’s commendable efforts to bring about a change at the grassroot level. When the project started, officers associated with Kanayshree visited all schools and helped form clubs and explainedto the members,their duties, which included keeping vigil in their locality and protest against any social evil or discrimination against girls/ women. Their training is yielding rich dividend at last. The girls acknowledged the immense support and guidance they received from Panchanan Kundu, their school principal. They are all very happy after succeeding in their mission.