[Following is a press release from the Subject Association, Department of Social Work, JMI]
Identify the issue, enrich your understanding, mobilize the people and take action on the issue is the theoretical approach to social activism; however, presently a different and an exemplary approach of social action is being taken by a social activist by the name of Jazeera V.M.
Jazeera is a burqa-clad, 31-year-old, mother of three, Muslim woman from the Kannur district of Kerala, who until recently, used to drive an autoriskshaw for a living. A year and a half ago, Jazeera took on the sand mining mafia in her hometown by protesting against the mafia’s rampant exploitation of a stretch of shoreline near Pazhayangadi town.
The Subject Association of Department of Social Work organized an interaction session with Jazeera at the Department of Social Work on 6 November, 2013.
The interaction session, which lasted for a couple of hours, commenced with recitation of the Holy Quran by Mr. Abu Hafeez, which was followed by welcome words by Sarah Abrar. Before the interaction, a documentary on Ms. Jazeera was also screened. Following which, Dr. Habeebul Rahman, the Student Advisor, introduced her to the audience.
Ms. Jazeera shared the story of her struggle starting from her village in Kerala to the present day reaching the capital of the country, New Delhi. She shared her bitter but inspiring experience of fighting against the sand mafia in which her own relatives are involved.
According to her, when she was pregnant with her youngest child, she moved to her native village to live with her family. This was the time when she came to know of a very shocking and deplorable condition of the Neerozhukkumchal beach where all her childhood memories are painted upon and which is in dire state due to rampant illegal excavation of sand by powerful criminals. That is when she started her crusade which grew nationwide after a long silent protest without any loud sloganeering. Her three children Rizawana, Shifana and Mohammed, ages 14, 11, and 1 respectively, are all who she has in her team. Her battle started from her village, which then moved to the district secretariat, then the state capital and now finally to Delhi at Janter Manter since early October. She is fighting the issue in the Supreme Court, at the National Human Rights Commission and in the Green Tribunal, breaking all stereotypes of Indian Muslim women along the way.
Ms. Jazeera is demanding the government to stop the illegal excavation of sand in her village. During her struggle, she has received threatening calls to stop her crusade. In an effort to stop her, she has even been accused of having links with some suspected terrorist outfits. She cited the Chipko Andolan and said that for those who are not associated with the issue might not be able to assign the importance to the same and might even laugh away from it, but those who could understand the gravity of it will never be able to sit back and relax.
Jazeera spoke in Malayalam, which was then translated in English for the audience by Ms. Shobha, a PhD scholar in the department.
The talk was followed by a question and answer session which each member of the audience thoroughly enjoyed.
Dr. Sanjai Ingole, professor in the Department of Social Work, concluded the session by remarking that these types of activist are great source of inspiration and learning for the students.
Before leaving the venue, Jazeera asserted that she will definitely win the battle, and asked the organizers to give her one more chance to return to Jamia after she has won her struggle, to share her joy of victory with the students.
To know more about Jazeera and her cause, refer to the following links:
[Via The Hindu] Every grain of sand.
[Via Open Magazine] To Mother a Beach