NGO that helps the depressed, lonely, in despair, or prone to suicide
Helping the depressed, lonely and people prone to suicides, by providing confidential care is what Aasara does 

Aasara means support or shelter in Hindi. It is also the name of a crisis-intervention centre which works at “preventing and managing mental illness by providing voluntary, professional and essentially confidential care and support to the depressed & the suicidal.” Aasara was started in 1998 when the number of suicides was rising inexplicably. This not-for-profit organisation located at Koparkhairane (Navi Mumbai) has been acting as a pillar of support for the depressed, lonely, in despair, or prone to self-destruction. 
 
Aasara believes that every life is precious and worth saving. So it helps people fight depression and destructive tendencies in multiple ways—it has a listening service and a free 24X7 phone service. It is accessible by email or even face-to-face meetings. Since Aasara is a unit of Befrienders Worldwide/Samaritans, a UK-based charity, it has access to an international network that includes Volunteer Emotional Support Helplines (VESH), LifelineInternational and the International Federation of Telephone Emergency Services (IFOTES); these help in increasing Aasra’s reach and efficiency.
 
Back in the 1990s, people staying in the far away suburbs of Mumbai required to make a long-distance call, which was expensive and a deterrent for those in emotional distress. This prompted Johnson Thomas, director of Aasara and a writer to set up Aasara as a crisis intervention centre with 36 passionate volunteers.
 
Apart from helplines, Aasara conducts street plays to spread the message that suicide is an irreversible response to a reversible condition and that prevention of suicide is everybody’s responsibility. It also conducts workshops in schools, because over-burdened 

students are often under family pressure to perform, especially during exams, making 
them more susceptible to drastic actions. Aasara has joined hands with Satya Sai Baba 
 
Trust to provide emotional support to farmers and Antara NGO empowering and providing skill training to young adults. Along with the Navi Mumbai NGO Forum, it is involved in conducting seminars for women, anti-tobacco campaigns, HIV/AIDS awareness programmes and health melas in colleges. These activities have helped increase its geographical spread to reach out to many more people for its life-saving activities. 
 
Over the years, it has expanded—from being available for just six to seven hours, to working round the clock. The number of calls received by the helpline has also increased 10-fold—from six or seven to around 60 to 70 a day—from India as well as abroad sometimes. 
 
Mr Thomas says, “It feels great to have Aasara as the first listing when anything related to suicide is searched on the Internet. This Search engine optimisation (SEO) rating assures us that all the hard work has been worth it!” Moreover, famous TV shows and news channels, such as Crime Patrol, CNN-IBN7, NDTV and now Moneylife magazine, have reached out helping it serve the society better. Aasara was awarded the Maharashtra Ratna Gaurav Puraskar (in the NGO’s/activist category) in 2006 in recognition for its contribution to the society.
 
Like most NGOs, one of the main challenges Aasara faces is the lack of volunteers and donations. Mr Thomas says, “It is disappointing to see only 3-4 volunteers turn up for orientation sessions conducted on Sundays to attract potential volunteers. We all go through pain; some of us have people to help us and some don’t.” He feels that, as a society, we are unwilling to donate time or money. Hence, people doing genuine work struggle to make ends meet. Students and youngsters are not encouraged to volunteer, because studies are of primary importance, but our tragedy is that very few senior citizens and retirees are also willing to devote time in a consistent manner to good causes. Mr Thomas makes a strong pitch for volunteering. 
 
Donations to Aasara are tax-exempt under Section 80-G. 

Aasara 
104, Sunrise Arcade
Plot No. 100, Sector 16 
Koparkhairane, 
Navi Mumbai - 400709
Tel: 022-27546667
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.aasra.info/index.htm

 

 

User

COMMENTS

Teesta Sanaa

1 month ago

This is a fake helpline which is either busy on they won't pickup the call. I did try calling in 9 time from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM on a Wednesday afternoon and no one ever picked or the phone was busy. Tried calling office no answer. Tried contacting contact person listed on site (aasra.Info) the phone was disconnected.
The one thing you can do on the website is to donate and they will take it.

MANJU

3 years ago

I am willing to join NGO to serve people to be happy as it is my aim as well as desire.but helpless as my husband don't want it. I am not in touch wid neighbour.what to do?

MANJU

3 years ago

VERY NICE JOB U R DOING.AND I TOO LIKE TO JOIN IT.I M LIVING A LONELY AND DEPRESSED LIFE. I WANT TO BE HAPPY AND MAKE FRIENDS BUT MY HUBBY DONT WANT ALL THIS AS OUR TASTES ARE DIFFERENT AND ONE MORE THING THAT I AM WILLING TO DO SOMETHING MORALLY FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE IN NEED

Johnson Thomas

3 years ago

Some errors to fix....
The spelling of Aasra is all wrong in your copy and the helpline number is 91-22-27546669(24x7).

The para regarding origin story should read as-
Back in the 1990s, people staying in the far away suburbs of Mumbai required to make a long-distance call, which was expensive and a deterrent for those in emotional distress. This prompted Johnson Thomas, director of Aasra and a writer , along with with several like minded individuals, to set up Aasra as a crisis intervention centre with 36 passionate volunteers

Aasra has joined hands(should be read as ' is in the process of joining hands') with Satya Sai Baba Trust to provide emotional support to farmers and most recently has informally tied up with Antarang NGO empowering and providing skill training to young adults.


please do make the corrections asap!
Thank you,
best regards,

Johnson Thomas
Director
AASRA

Nagesh Kini

3 years ago

Great report Queency. Look forward to many more from your pen.

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Voter name deletion: When HC and EC ignore citizens' outcry

Present case in Maharashtra where voter's name were deleted is not as genuine as it is being made out to be. This shows mistrust on citizens and totally absolves the district election officer or election registrations officers who have acted irresponsibly. This should call for citizen outrage through use of RTI

It’s distressing that the unprecedented mass deletions in the voters’ lists of Mumbai and Pune  have had no bearing on the alleged accused – that is, Election Registration Officers (EROs), District Election Officers or the Election Observers of Mumbai and Pune, in terms of accountability or instituting of an investigation or inquiry against any of them, into this alleged scandal, systems failure and mal-administration.

 

Instead, the onus has been put on the 'victim', in this case the voter whose name has been deleted, although in many cases, the name may have been deleted without the EROs following necessary legal norms or the deletion process.  While the Bombay High Court placed the onus on citizens to get themselves again on the voters’ list if their names have been deleted and former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dr SY Quarishi, speaking at  Moneylife Foundation, made a generalised statement that 'deletion is a part of the cleaning process' without addressing the present case.

 

It is a blow to democracy wherein the 'victim' now has to gulp down the humiliation of being ousted from the electoral process, in many cases, for no fault of his/ her and once again go and register as a voter by filling Form 6. The only crumbs thrown at the 'victim' by the High Court is that his or her name would be entered into the voters’ list in 30 days time, after he or she registers once again. The question is, should we be thankful to this 'considerate time period'? Yes, but with a rider!

 

Before that, let us read extracts from the Bombay HC Order and Dr SY Quraishi’s lecture:

 

Excerpts from Bombay HC order of May 12, 2014:

“(C) The statement made by the learned Advocate General that the revision of electoral rolls for Pune and Mumbai Constituencies shall be undertaken at the earliest and in pursuance thereof individual applications in the prescribed forms for inclusion in the electoral rolls shall be considered and disposed of in accordance with law, preferably within 30 days from the date of their receipt, is accepted. The concerned Respondents shall publish notices / advertisements in the newspapers indicated in paragraph 56 of this order, so that there is adequate publicity with regard to such revision of electoral rolls. This shall be in addition to other usual modes of publication of notice. It is made clear that such revision shall have no nexus with the on going Lok Sabha Elections 2014.”

 

Excerpt from Dr SY Quraishi’s talk at Moneylife Foundation on May 9, 2012: Everywhere we are hearing the word 'deletion'. Is it a bad word? I don't think so. If people are dead, shouldn't we delete their names? If they have shifted somewhere should we not delete them? If they have been registered at two places, should we not delete their names?

Deletion is a part of cleaning the electoral rolls, and very important because, if out of the 60 lakh voters, about 59 lakh are bogus, then it deserved to be deleted. There is potential of misusing bogus voters there. You are new to politics, but all the political parties know who dead people in these electoral rolls are and again, they have fake voters ready.

``In Uttar Pradesh, when we did elections in 2008, we found 53 lakh dead voters. They were all potential bogus voters, so we deleted them. There were 83,000 voters, who had shifted residences, but we could not delete them because they may choose to come back. Then we have two categories, families shifted with bag and baggage with no contact left and some members moving out leaving other members still at the address.

So we created a separate list, and instructed the presiding officer that if anybody comes from these separate 'missing' list, then he must scrutinize the voter very carefully. And, you will be surprised to know that only 1.5% people from this separate 'missing' list actually came for voting.

At that time, the EC deleted 1.32 crore voters as routine cleaning process. The concerned chief minister at that time, said he lost the elections not to rivals but to Election Commission. This was because, we did not allow any bogus voters. The matter is in courts now.

According to my impression, only 0.5% from the total were not genuine deletion and 99.5% was genuine deletions. Therefore, deletion is a part of cleaning process.”

 

Is Maharashtra the same story as Uttar Pradesh? Can the former CEC make a sweeping statement? Should a voter, who had voted as recently as the Municipal Elections in 2012, be the 'accused' even if he has not checked his name this time, as he has not been served any notice at his door by the Election Office nor has he himself filled Form 8, requesting deletion?

 

Former Divisional Commissioner of Pune, Prabhakar Karandikar had written a letter to Chief Election Officer appealing for suo motu cancellation of ERO’s deletion orders and putting back all those names in the voters’ list.

 

He had stated: “From the newspapers, it appears that the officials of Election Commission of India (ECI) have suggested that all voters, whose names appear to have been deleted wrongfully / inadvertently, should apply to the concerned ERO for inclusion of in Form 6 under the provisions of Rule 13(a) of RER 1960.

 

However, I would like to submit that the following categories of cases deserve to be dealt with on a special footing:-

            [1] Persons who have been regularly voting regularly in the past but suddenly find             their names deleted this time round;

            [2] Names of a few members of the family residing at the same address have been           deleted, while keeping names of remaining members intact.

 

It would appear that these type of mistakes have taken place due to administrative lapses on the part of the EROs. It would be adding insult to injury to ask such voters to apply afresh for inclusion of their names in Form 6 or to ask them to file appeals under the provisions of Rule 23 of RER 1960.
 

I would like to suggest that all the written complaints regarding deletion of names received by DEOs / EROs may be deemed to be Appeals filed under the provisions of Rule 23 of the RER 1960 against the orders of deletion (of names) passed by the EROs and taken up for suo motu review by the EROs / DEOs, waiving the issue of limitation. This would create an impression in the minds of the offended voters as well in the minds of the general public that ECI is sympathetic towards redressal of their grievances.

 

However, arguments to defend the 'missing voter' in the list are finally turning out to be futile. So, what are the options left? Fill up Form 6 once again and get into the voters’ list. I can imagine how dejected one may feel about doing that if he or she is not in the wrong, but the citizen has been left with no option.

 

However, along with doing whatever it takes to get yourself in the voters’ list, the writer urges every applicant to use Right to Information (RTI) to investigate into why and how your name was deleted from the list, although you had voted in 2012, checked your names, never submitted Form 8 requesting your name deletion or you were not served notice by the ERO for deletion.

  1. For RTI application under Section 6 of the RTI Act as well as for Section 4 inspection of files, you should ask for information on (download the forms from the box below this article):
  1. Page of the voter roll list which had my name/names earlier and page of the voter roll list in which my name has been deleted
  2. Copy of the notice sent to me before deletion of my name/names
  3. Copy of the hearing sent to me as a result of the notice
  4. Copy of the public notice issued in the newspaper announcing my name/names for deletion
  5. All correspondence related to the procedure that led to the deletion of my name

Alternatively, the citizen can write the following complaint letter to the District Election Officer/ State Election Commissioner, Maharashtra
 

            Please treat this as an official complaint from a voter who was denied her right to    vote in Pune on the 17th of April. Please let me know the reason why my name was    deleted from the voters’ list with documentary evidence. Please let me know what           action you have taken against the officers/staff who have wrongly deleted my name.    Please ensure my name is put back in the voters’ list and send me the details.

 

Name/address:

Voting card no: (if you have otherwise ignore)

Contact no:

Voting booth: (if you know)

Assembly Constituency:

Reason for Complaint:

Date:

Signature

 

It is not possible for each one of us to steer or take part in large scale citizen campaigns to fight this injustice. Hence, if each of the affected person seeks explanation from the Election office, it would help build up citizen pressure on the authorities. So, come on, do not take injustice lying down. Use RTI and give us the feedback.
 

Application for filing application for file inspection under Section 4 of RTI Act
 

Date:

 

To,

The District Election Officer

Election Office

Old Zilla Parishad

Pune

 

Sub: Inspection of files under Section 4 of the RTI Act of documents pertaining to deletion of my name/names in the current voters’ list

 

 

Dear Sir,

 

My name is …………………..

 

My name was registered in the ……………………….

 

Despite this, I was unable to vote on 17 April 2014 as my name was deleted.

 

Under Section 4 of the RTI Act, I wish to inspect and get a copy of the following

 

documents:

 

1. Page of the voter roll list which had my name/names earlier and page of the voter roll list in which my name has been deleted

 

2. Copy of the notice sent to me before deletion of my name/names

 

3. Copy of the hearing sent to me as a result of the notice

 

4. Copy of the public notice issued in the newspaper announcing my name/ names for deletion

 

5. All correspondence related to the procedure that led to the deletion of my name

 

Please note that all the above documents come under Section 4 of the RTI Act and hence should have been put up suo motu by you on the website. As it has not been done, I would like you to give them to me now.

 

Thanking you,

 

Yours sincerely

 

ANNEXURE-A (see rule 3)

Application for obtaining information under the Right to Information Act, 2005

 

To,

The Public Information Officer,

 

Paste
a Court Fee Stamp
of Rs. 10/- here.

 

Sir/ Madam,

 

1.Full Name of the Applicant:

 

2. Address:

 

3.Particulars of the information Required:

  1. Subject matter of the information:

Documents relating to my deletion of my name/names from the current  voters’ list

  1. The period to which information relates:

2009 to 2014

  1. Description of the Information Required:
  1. Page of the voter roll list which had my name/names earlier and page of the voter roll list in which my name has been deleted
  2. Copy of the notice sent to me before deletion of my name/names
  3. Copy of the hearing sent to me as a result of the notice
  4. Copy of the public notice issued in the newspaper announcing my name/names for deletion
  5. All correspondence related to the procedure that led to the deletion of my name

 

  1. Whether the information is required by post or in person:

 

4. Whether the Applicant is below the poverty line:

 

5. Enclosures:

  1. Copy of my voter’s card/cards (If you have one)
  2.  

 

Place:

 

Date:

 

Signature of the Applicant

 

 

(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

User

COMMENTS

rakesh

2 years ago

Deletion of names is a serious crime against democracy.If this is taken lightly,the concerned officers simply collude with political parties and delete the names encases as they like.Why there is no accountability for such irresponsible mass deletion of names? Disciplinary action should be taken against the concerned govt employees & election commission for dereliction of duty?

Indur Chhugani

3 years ago

What use are 2 Judges together – IF both are having extremely low IQ level ? – Just one with human intelligence would be better

http://ikchhugani.wordpress.com/?p=8

P b Sarma

3 years ago

Deletion of names is a serious crime against democracy.If this is taken lightly,the concerned officers simply collude with political parties and delete the names encases as they like.Why there is no accountability for such irresponsible mass deletion of names?Why no disciplinary action is not taken against the concerned govt employees for dereliction of duty?

Nagesh Kini

3 years ago

Notwithstanding Dr. Quarishi's long winding justifications, he has not come out with cogent reasons for the selective deletions of those who have been diligently voting for years all along.The entire exercise is seen to be carried out without any proper application of mind.
Sometime back in response to an announcement the the EC will accept suggestions for deletions of deceased, moved and flats transferred,
I, as a concerned Secretary of my Housing Society, had approached the DEO with a list only to be rebuffed that their staff will carry out an on-site inspection which they have failed to this date!

REPLY

P b Sarma

In Reply to Nagesh Kini 3 years ago

The staff are very arrogant.They never give acknowledgement for the application received.In urban and metro areas the omissions and commissions are rampant since the concerned officials are not made accountable.

P b Sarma

In Reply to Nagesh Kini 3 years ago

The govt officials must be made accountable for their deliberate omissions and commissions.This is worse than booth capturing.

Capt Edgar Sylva

3 years ago

Can you please give me the full postal address of the Election Commission officer for Bandra (Vandre) area as I want to file an RTI 2005 application based on your article above.

REPLY

vivek shah

In Reply to Capt Edgar Sylva 3 years ago

You'll get it on the EC website

vivek shah

3 years ago

Dear Vinita

I watched your spirited fight on CNNIBN and I too feel the same. My son's name (who is a first time voter ) was deleted too despite the fact that I had personally visited the Election office in Jogeshwari East in Munmbai in the month of February 2014 and have a handwritten details confirming the presence of his name from the EC officials . My son was extremely disappointed too. I surely intend to file RTI query on my son's behalf. I am appalled at the Court's insensitivity and biased view protecting the careless EC officials.

REPLY

P b Sarma

In Reply to vivek shah 3 years ago

The issue is to be pursued till the accountability is fixed..

Dr Paresh Vaidya

3 years ago

The "deletion" seems to be a new process. Originally when the elections of the Centre and the States were held together and every five years ( till 1971), the process was straight forward. The state government on behalf of the EC will prepare electoral rolls by visiting house to house before each election.
Once a new roll is in place, automatically the dead and those who moved out( referred to by Dr Qureshi) will go out of the rolls. A New Roll will replace the old roll. There was no mid term, sitting-in- office type, correction which seems to be happening now.

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