Jazeera is on a silent campaign, in defence of the Neerozhukkumchal beach in Kannur

The so-called sand mafia of a little taluk in Kannur rues the day Jazeera returned home. Dismissed as an insignificant voice of protest against the rampant exploitation of a stretch of shoreline near Pazhayangadi town, this woman has soon come to be known as a force to be reckoned with. All the way from the northern district of Kannur, she has brought her silent campaign to the State capital, as she sits in front of the Secretariat with her three children — protesting without loud sloganeering or politically coloured flags or leaflets.

Entering the fifth day, Jazeera’s protest has thus far been eclipsed by a far more populous Left protest.

Now that they have left, the presence of this family has become more conspicuous, leading the Chief Minister to meet them briefly on Monday afternoon on the issue of sand-mining in her hometown. For Jazeera, the cause is intensely personal, as the Neerozhukkumchal beach is the canvas all her childhood memories are painted upon.

She is an autorickshaw driver, a profession she has struggled to be part of, in a conservative society. She does not let herself to be affected by such taboos and continued working until after her marriage in 2004, when she moved to Kottayam with her husband.

She has found the new district far more accepting. It was only one and a half years ago, when she returned home during the final month of her third pregnancy, did she see to her shock the daylight robbery of a natural landscape.

Countless visits to the Kannur collectorate and police stations have proved futile.

And for the past one and a half years, her silent protest has involved a sit-in, along with her daughters Rizwana, Shifana and her son Mohammed. The two girls, aged 12 and 10, know everything about the case and have flanked their mother every step. Her husband, Abdul Salaam, is a teacher at a madrasa in Kochi.

While he has not been a visible part of Jazeera’s protest, his support, despite pressure various quarters, has been a huge boon for her.

She is clear about her objective despite the obstacles strewn before her in terms of muscle and money power. Even the police, she says, have pleaded with her to give up. “Their greed is despicable. In broad daylight they commit this heinous crime of emptying our lands, oblivious to the fact that there are so many creatures that depend on it. The sudden depth of water is dangerous as well,” she says.

She is glad to have met the Chief Minister personally and she said he assured her that he would ensure that the vehicles carting away the sand would be immediately dealt with.

She will leave once she obtains something in print promising a complete halt of the activities.

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