Excerpt from Pink Sari Revolution by Amana Fontanella-Khan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Pink Sari Revolution

A Tale of Women and Power in India

By Amana Fontanella-Khan

Pink Sari Revolution
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Aug 2013,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: 25 Aug 2014,
    304 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Excerpt
Pink Sari Revolution

On August 2, 2006, less than a year after Sampat started the gang, she was sitting on her patio with Babuji and Lakhan when she received a visit from a woman called Sushila, a mother of eight living below the poverty line. Between sobs, Sushila told Sampat that the police had beaten up and taken away her husband, Bare Lal, after a dispute he had had with a neighbor a few days earlier. Sushila's husband was being detained without any charge, and the police hadn't provided his family with any information about the arrest.

Sampat was not surprised by Sushila's story—by then she had handled numerous cases involving illegal detention, which was rampant in many parts of India where domestic law allows the police to arrest individuals on the mere basis of "reasonable suspicion." There are virtually no remedies available to wrongfully imprisoned citizens, and offending officers are rarely disciplined. It is a system in which police can wield their power to arrest for a myriad of unlawful purposes, including to extort, to inflate arrest quotas, and to silence citizens who dare to make complaints about them. This is why Sushila felt powerless in the face of her husband's sudden arrest.

"I go to the police station to meet him, but they always tell me to go away," Sushila told Sampat that day, breaking down. "How will I look after my children on my own? Who will feed them?" she asked tearfully.

After Sushila narrated her story, Sampat promised to accompany her to the Atarra police station. "I'll beat them with my own hands if they don't listen to us," Sampat told her confidently as they walked the short distance to the station. Sampat often illustrates how she would make good on such threats by wildly slapping and punching her imaginary opponent, until she snaps out of her violent reveries with a torrent of hoarse, hearty chuckles that make her cheeks rosy. In India, the majority of complaints are made by traveling to a police station, as emergency helplines are barely functional or existent. Many ordinary Indians, especially women, enter police stations with a sense of dread and anxiety and often refuse to go after dark. Far too often, newspapers carry reports of sexual molestation, rape, and even murder carried out by officers in stations. One of the stories that recently hit national headlines told of a woman who alleges she was gang-raped by officers after they forced her to drink alcohol. She had gone to the station because she had been told, erroneously, that she had been offered a job.

When Sampat arrived at the police station with Sushila in tow, Sampat approached the station officer, a man called Zameer Ul Hassan. "Why are you keeping her husband? You should charge him or let him go!" Sampat snapped. The officer demanded to know who she was.

"You don't know, what? I'm Sampat Pal, leader of the Pink Gang." The station officer was not impressed with her credentials. "He told me many people come here, trying to act like netas"—referring to leaders and people with political power—"don't think I'm going to listen to you," Sampat recalls.

"If you don't listen now, maybe you will when I come back with a hundred women armed with sticks?" Sampat replied testily. "Bring, bring," he said in impatient monosyllables, and sent them away.

As they left the station, Sampat told Sushila to meet her at the office at eleven o'clock the next day. "Then he'll see who Sampat Pal is," she said angrily. Leaving Sushila, Sampat marched over to Uraiya Purva, where some of the initial Pink Gang members lived. Uraiya Purva is within walking distance from Sampat's office; if you take a left from her patio and walk half a mile, you get to a canal with dark-green currents where those without running water bathe, wash their clothes, and rinse steel cooking pots. If you cross the bridge that goes over the canal and continue a few more miles, you reach the field-rimmed cluster of mud huts.

Excerpted from Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India by Amana Fontanella-Khan. Copyright © 2013 by Amana Fontanella-Khan. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Lathi

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.