JAZEERA, THE WILL TO FIGHT ILLEGAL SAND MINING.
What can one uneducated, poor man or woman do to fight against something wrong in our society? Anything according to Jazeera.
One woman whose will to fight the lonely battle against sand mining took the world by storm. This was mainly due to the fact that she broke the gender barrier and proved to the whole world how a single person’s might can influence the world.
Meet the 31-year-old Jazeera, a mother of three from Madayi village in Kannur, north Kerala who staged a lone protest against Sand mining in her native village. She started this campaign against the sand mafias by protesting against the extraction of sand from Neerozhukkumchal beach in her village. The main reasons behind this protest being that the mining of sand mainly for construction purpose causes damage to the environment and the ecosystem of the area where she grew up.
In December 2011, she noticed the erosion of the beach near her village, this was caused by sand mining, Jazeera was pained by this as she was born and raised in this village and this caused her urge to take initiative and do something to stop the damage of the coast. It was a scary sight as the sand eroded and sea was getting closer and closer to their houses. The next journey in fighting the sand mafia was not to be a easy one and this was personal as her brother was also involved with the sand mafia and the sand mining activities at the coast.
Video: CNN-IBN covers Jazeera’s protest against sand mafia in Delhi
The first thing that Jazeera did was to threaten her brother that she would report the matter to the police if they did not halt their activities, this seemed to work effectively but briefly and was her first victory in the long and grueling struggle. The main setback was that Jazeera was being involved in a lonely struggle as her neighbors in Kerala did not join her in the protest and some viewed her as a popularity-seeking person in search of media attention and fame. Their hesitation in joining Jazeera might have been due to the fact that the illegal sand mining was a source of livelihood for most of the coastal residents and women and men were employed in the mining fields.
Unperturbed and noticing the continuation of these illegal activities, Jazeera reported the matter to the local police and used photographic evidence to support her claims regarding the sand mining. This immediate response from the sand mafia was to offer threats and attack Jazeera and her children, not only once, twice but thrice, this was possibly as a away to eliminate the threat.
Following this protest, the Kannur district administration set up a check post near the Neerozhukkumchal beach in the close proximity of her home, but this was not adequate in stopping the illegal sand mining as the activities were being undertaken in other parts of the beach. The guard at the beach is reported to have told Jazeera that he could not do anything regarding what was taking place in other parts of the beach.
On noticing that the District administration did not intend to stop the illegal mining, she decided to take the protest to the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram on 2 august 2013. Here she conducted a sit-in protest outside the State Secretariat. In this protest, she also had her two daughters with her which led to a widespread uproar from activists who wanted to take away her children from her on allegations of child abuse and in the name of rescuing them. Jazeera did fight hard to prevent their attempts quoting that she took proper care of her children and that “They were not begging on the streets”.
Two days after the start of her protest, the Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy called her to his Chamber for a meeting and gave verbal assurances that he would take necessary actions against illegal sand mining on the coast. In which Jazeera asserted that verbal assurances were not enough and that she needed a written assurance.
When the Cheif Minister did not give her a written assurance she took her protest to Delhi. She camped in front of the Kerala House in Delhi, asking to meet the Union Environmental Minister and stern action be taken against the sand mafia in her village and Kerala. She claimed that her struggle helped create awareness to the masses about the need to protect the environment. The National Human Rights Commission was also involved in this protest expressing their concern on the discontinuation of the Education of her two daughters and the illegal sand mine, hence asking the Government to file a report regarding this.