KOCHI: A pram isn’t something one would normally associate with a protest, least of all a protest venue. But on Monday, onlookers were completely surprised to one near the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium at Kaloor in the hot, dusty conditions, with Azaadi slogans ringing in the background. In it, 90-day-old Dawood Hanim slept peacefully. He was probably the youngest participant of the People’s Long March taken out from the JLN Stadium to Cochin Shipyard Ltd.
“We could have stayed back home for the sake of the baby’s safety. But tomorrow, we may reach a stage where this child will find it impossible even to live in this country,” said Fathima Arshad, mother of Dawood, who was accompanied by her husband Arshad and two other children.
This wasn’t a one-off instance. There was a grandmother who carried a two-year-old on her left shoulder and a bottle of water in her right hand. Similarly, there was a woman who had given birth to two premature babies barely weeks ago. People from different walks of life — irrespective of age, faith and gender — trekked seven kilometres for the cause. The march which began at 2pm ended around 5.30 pm, with participants reading aloud the Preamble to the Constitution.
A few days ago, a photograph of law student Indulekha in hijab and burkha had gone viral. She was protesting in Kochi against the Prime Minister’s remark on how arsonists can be identified by their clothes.
Monday’s march had its share of those trying to sent out the same message to the powers be. Sreenath K, a sound engineer, wore a kurta, kirpan and skull cap with a placard saying, “Identify me by my clothes!”
“I did not agree with the PM’s remarks. Also, Indulekha had inspired me,” he said. There was another man sporting a Santa mask, who was wearing a saffron-coloured dhothi and a backpack, asking the same question.