Sunday, June 8, 2008

Chithralekha presented with new auto


At a simple function held at the Police Club auditorium in Kannur on Saturday (June 7), Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha president C.K.Janu presented the keys of a new diesel auto to Chithralekha.

Chithralekha, a Dalit woman, who sought to make a living plying an auto, was constantly harassed by male auto drivers. Her means of livelihood was lost when one of them set fire to her auto. Neither the auto drivers’ union nor the party that controls it came forward to protect her.

Concerned citizens formed the Chithralekha Punaradhivasa Committee, with Dr. D. Surendranath as chairman, to help rehabilitate her. The June 7 function marked the culmination of its efforts. It proclaimed civil society’s firm resolve to extend to her all support in her continuing struggle for the right to work and live with honour.

K.M.Venugopalan, Convener, Chithralekha Punaradhivasa Committee, writes:

A.Vasu (Vasuettan), Dileepraj, V.P.Zuhra, Advocate P.A.Pauran, Mini K Philip, M.K.Jayaraj and Munderi Balakrishnan spoke at the function. Dr. Surendranath was in the chair.

Jenny Roweena and Carmel Christy, authors of the much debated report "Chithralekha's Burning Auto: Caste and Gender in the Urban Space of Keralam" (published in Sarai), who had stood by the Chithralekha Punaradhivasa Committee in its campaign, were present on the occasion.

After receiving the keys of the auto from Janu, Chithralekha said she would name the vehicle Mayilamma, after the heroic Adivasi woman who had led the anti-Coke
agitation at Plachimada until her death last year.
It was Mayilamma who had inaugurated the Convention for Protection of the Rights of Dalits and Women, held at Payyanur in February 2006. The convention, organized by the Citizens' Action Committee, was part of the early stage of the agitation sparked by the burning of Chithralekha’s auto.

Messages received from B.R.P.Bhaskar (senior journalist and human rights campaigner), Dr.A.K. Ramakrishnan (Jamia University, New Delhi), Prof.Shiva Shankar(Chennai Institute of Mathematics), J.Robin (Editor, Keraleeyam Monthly), Dr.J.Devika
(CDS,Thiruvananthapuram), Benjamin Paul Kaila (Ambedkarsholarships) and Dr.
Hari P.Sharma of South Asian Network for Secularism and
Democracy (SANSAD) were read out.

Messages expressing solidarity were also received from Dr.T.T.Sreekumar, Anivar
Aravind, Salim.T.K, Aftab Ellath, K.Ajitha, K.Venu, Sunny Kapikkad, P.V.Ayyappan, Rekha Raj, C.Padmanabhan, K.K.Kochu, Dr.K.M.Seethi (M G University, Kottayam), Dr.A.K.Jayasree, Sarathchandran, Mitesh Domania (US),Dr. Ranjith (Indira Gandhi Open University, New Delhi), Deepa V.N, Joy Charles(US), Prof. Alladi Sitaram (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore), Prof. Sujata Ramodari, Stalin.K (documentary film maker) and many others who had reiterated their support to the 10-month campaign for Chithralekha’s rehabilitation on various occasions.

Earlier, K. M. Venugopal welcomed the gathering. P.K.Ayyappan, Treasurer, Chithralekha Punaradhivasa Committee, proposed a vote of thanks.

A few words about the accounts:

A sum of Rs 1,53,700 was received as donations as against the targeted amount Rs 1,50,000. Some outstation cheques received in the later phase are yet to be credited to our account. Delay of several weeks in collecting money received as cheques considered normal!

There is already an understanding that the balance left after realizing the actual expenses of the campaign and the expenses incurred for the purchase of the auto, insurance, road taxes, body etc will be credited to the personal account of Chithralekha

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