Kerala

A ‘fine’ garland to state his plight

P.V. Mohammed Riyas staging a protest in Manjeri town on Friday  

A mini-lorry driver from Pulpatta, near Manjeri, staged a unique protest in Manjeri town on Friday evening inviting the government’s attention to the living condition of the people, particularly the drivers of vehicles carrying building materials.

A large garland made of pink receipts for the fines slapped by the authorities hung from his neck as 38-year-old P.V. Mohammed Riyas criss-crossed Manjeri town. At first people took him for a crack. But the placard he held confirmed his sanity.

Mr. Riyas chose to stage a loner’s protest after he was persistently harassed by the authorities while carrying laterite stones to construction sites. “We too want to live. I started transporting laterite blocks after the State government announced that pickups carrying building materials, specifically laterite blocks, should not be prevented by the police. But, I was charged by different officers, including those of the Department of Mining and Geology, while transporting laterite blocks,” he said.

No empathy

Mr. Riyas said he was desperate as the authorities kept on slapping him fines without being empathetic. The fine receipts he made a festoon with included that of his friends. “We too have families, and we too want to live,” he said.

The placard he held exhorted the government to allow people to make a living by working. The pink fine slips that hung from his neck varied from minimum ₹250 to ₹10,000. “The unkindest slap was from the geology team. They charged ₹10,000,” he said.

Mr. Riyas said his protest was to invite the attention of the government to the pathetic condition the ordinary people in the State were going through. “I have wife and three kids. They wait for my return from work with a lot of expectations every day. Sadly, there were days when I had to go home empty-handed after being fined by the police and other authorities while carrying laterite blocks. It’s terrible,” Mr. Riyas said with a quiver in his voice.


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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 1:15:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/a-fine-garland-to-state-his-plight/article35655055.ece

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