In the gushing wind and heavy rain she struggled with a tiny umbrella to shield her three children aged ten, eight and two.
Burqa-clad Jazeera (31), mother of three, is on an indefinite fast before the state secretariat.
The reason: she wants the sand mafia which is eating into the vitals of the coastline, reined in. No slogans, no flags — she had brought her silent campaign to save the coastline to the powers-that-be in the state capital.
Two days ago, chief minister Oommen Chandy had met her and promised to stop the illegal mining that’s eating into the coastline in Jazeera’s hamlet —Pazayangadi in north Kerala’s Kannur district.
But she wants a written assurance.“I have received many promises, but nothing worked. After killing the major rivers, the sand mafia has now turned to the beaches,” she said. “Unmindful mining has left deep pits along the coast.”
A gutsy woman Jazeera had to fight enough taboo to become an auto-driver in 2000. But she had to discontinue her profession once she was married off to Kottayam four years later.
When she returned home for third child’s delivery she noticed the daylight robbery of natural landscape - sand-laden vehicles were whizzing past day and night and authorities were turning a blind eye to the disfiguring of once beautiful beaches.
She took it up one and a half years ago and there was no looking back.
Initially she approached the local police but nothing happened. Then she began a fast before Kannur collectorate.
Soon the collector had set up a police aid post to check mining.
“Local policemen were hand in glove with mafia. Once weekly hafta (illegal payment) stopped, they started ill-treating me and encouraged mining in the night,” she said.
Fed up, some of the locals even branded her an insane but the school dropout was not ready to give up. Since she took it up, her husband, a madrassa teacher, also fell out with her.
“Unmindful mining has left deep pits along the coast. The seawall was in danger in many places. Because of deep gorges many dreaded entering the beach,” she said.
Initially authorities had allowed locals to take sand for their own construction, but later this was taken as a cover for illegal mining. Jazeera had to face death threats on several times but she’s unfazed.
“Look you have to die only once. If it is for a good cause I don’t mind,” she said.
Sitting all alone before the secretariat for last six days many organizations have pledged support to her. Some of them have even put up flex boards calling her ‘Kerala Durga.’
“Her concerns are genuine. I have sought a report from the district collector,” said the CM adding he would meet her again once he gets the collector’s report.