The Chappath junction on the banks of the Periyar was all activity as hundreds of residents flocked to the area on Tuesday pledging support for the Mullaperiyar Samara Samithi leaders who are an agitation demanding a new dam in place of the Mullaperiyar dam.
The otherwise non-descript junction was crowded with visitors and supporters of the 1803-day-old agitation.
The agitation attained an emotional tone with the hunger strike led by E.S. Bijimol, Peerumade MLA, and action council leaders C.P. Roy, Anpayyan, and Shaji Joseph entering the third day on Tuesday.
Supporters of the agitation, including women, nuns, and children, reached the venue in the morning shouting slogans and greeting the leaders. They held placards demanding steps for constructing a new dam at Mullaperiyar and measures for protecting the people.
Some of the volunteers of the samithi distributed drinking water to the protestors who had to wait in a queue to greet the leaders.
While BJP workers staged a sit-in near the venue, representatives from the local jamaath joined the leaders on the stage. Representatives of various organisations would join the agitation in the coming days, the leaders said.
Some workers of the Kerala Congress (M) created a human dam on the river as part of the agitation. Hundreds of supporters were seen reaching the venue of the agitation in autorickshaws, motorbikes, and cars despite a hartal called by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Several youngsters also joined the agitation displaying placards, banners, and posters demanding steps for saving the people. Hundreds of supporters waited on a bridge over the river to reach the agitation venue.
Representatives of political parties, youth organisations, cultural and religious movements, residents associations, plantation workers, and nuns reached Chappath in the morning itself.
Representatives of the Tamil-speaking population from the area also addressed the protestors.
As the supporters greeted the leaders, representatives of various organisations spoke to the crowd and called for taking the agitation to the national capital.
A fuel station at Chappath reopened in the afternoon as several vehicles, which ran out of fuel, created traffic snarls.
District authorities deployed a medical team near the venue. The health condition of the leaders was being inspected at regular intervals, officials said.
The BJP workers blocked the Kumili check-post from 6 a.m. as part of the hartal called by the party.
Protest to intensify
The protest is expected to gather momentum as leaders of the LDF led by Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan are expected to reach here on Wednesday afternoon.
Roshy Augstine, Idukki MLA, will join the fast on Wednesday. Nearly 7,000 students of nearby schools will rally to the venue on Wednesday pledging support for the agitation.
Keywords: Mullaperiyar dam controversy