flesl.net paired stories: cloze: philanthropy (Sanpat Pal)

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Sanpat Pal

Sanpat Pal is the founder and leader of “The Pink Gang,” an organization based in the Banda region of northern India. The gang was founded in 2006 and has several thousand members, almost all of them women. The gang members come from hundreds of villages throughout the region. They are called “The Pink Gang” because they wear traditional Indian dresses in a bright pink color.

Sanpat and her followers believe that their society is unjust, especially to women. So they have joined together to fight for justice. The Pink Gang members also believe that the government and the police are not really trying to do anything to protect women who are being badly treated. They think that situation could only be improved if ordinary people take the law into their own hands—even if that means using violence and perhaps going to jail.

Sanpat got the idea of starting the gang after an incident that involved her own sister. Her sister’s husband, who was an alcoholic, had dragged his wife by her hair around the yard of his house. Sanpat got some other women to help her and, together they chased her brother-in-law into a sugar cane field and beat him up with sticks and metal rods.

Since that time, the pink gang has continued to fight for justice. And they are not interested only in fighting against the abuse of women. They are also determined to fight against government corruption.

In one case, for example, a government-run shop was supposed to be giving grain to poor people. But the officials who were in control of the shop were stealing the grain and making money by selling it in illegal markets. Two gang members stopped several trucks that were carrying this grain to one of these markets. Despite the fact that the drivers threatened them with knives, they managed to let the air out of the trucks’ tires and to get the keys. Then they demanded that the government take the grain back to the shop and make sure that it was distributed to poor people.

When she was interviewed in 2009, Sanpat was optimistic about the future of her fight. She said, “There used to be a feeling of helplessness, a belief that fighting back is just not possible, but that is changing.”

- the information came from these sources (consulted August 21, 2009):
1. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/06/14/MNRR15FURD.DTL
2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7068875.stm
3. http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2007/12/05/gang-of-pink-indian-women-fight-social-injustice
4. http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=993&Itemid=34