Hundreds, including political leaders, pay their homage
PALAKKAD: The mortal remains of Mayilamma, 67, a tribal woman who became the symbol of the anti-Coca Cola struggle at Plachimada, were cremated at the Sarkarpathy burial ground in Perumatty grama panchayat, Chittur, on Sunday.
Mayilamma who was keeping unwell for the last few weeks breathed her last on Saturday night at her son Murukaraj's house near Plachimada.
She was in the forefront of the agitation by local tribal people and others against the alleged exploitation of groundwater and environment pollution by the bottling unit of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd. at Plachimada.
The agitation launched by the Anti-Coca Cola Agitation Committee in April 2002 in front of the company gate demanding its closure is still continuing.
Mayilamma, who was a worker in the company, joined the agitation after a year of its operation, when the local people noticed depletion and pollution of water in their wells.
She was a recipient of many awards, including the Speak Out Award of Outlook.
A book was also written on her and the Plachimada agitation. Her body was placed near the factory gate to enable the people to pay their last respects.
People from various parts of Kerala and different walks of life filed past the body.
Later, the body was taken in a procession attended by hundreds of people.
Prominent personalities and those connected with the struggle for local people's right over water in Plachimada and elsewhere attended the last rites
They included M.P. Veerendrakumar, N.N. Krishnadas, K.E. Ismail, all MPs; Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State president P.K. Krishnadas; the former BJP State president C.K. Padmanabhan; Janata Dal secretary-general K. Krishnanakutty; Communist Party of India (CPI) leader V. Chamunni; district panchayat president Subida Ishaq; Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) State president M.B. Rajesh; Plachimada Solidarity Committee convener R. Ajayakumar; and Anti-Coca Cola Agitation Committee patron Vilayodi Venugopal, among others.
Mayilamma is survived by her sons Murukaraj, Thankavelu, Subramaniyan and daughter Daivana.
Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan; Electricity Minister A.K. Balan; and Agriculture Minister Mullakara Ratnakaran, in separate messages, condoled the death of Mayilamma.
The Chief Minister said Mayilamma was symbol of the resistance against exploitation of natural resources. He recalled that Mayilamma had ended her agitation only after the State Government announced the ban on soft drinks.