CHENNAI: When a small boy, instead of climbing trees or wetting his feet in waves at the sea shore, decides to sit in the middle of the road to raise his voice, it can be a challenge to the reality-hardened uniformed law keepers. The police in Padur, a village on the outskirts of Chennai, on Wednesday had to handle a seven-year-old boy in his school uniform and sitting on the road despite a scorching sun above his head, holding a placard that read Kudiyai vidu, padikka vidu (Renounce liquor, allow us to study).
Tamil Nadu has been witnessing widespread protests as the liquor shops are being shifted into residential areas following the Supreme Court’s recent ban on liquor shops on or close to highways. “This land is for agriculture, wine shop should not be here,” said A Aakash, who has just completed Class II. “Families suffer because people drink. They don’t have money for their children’s education because they spend everything on alcohol,” said the boy.
Only on Saturday the residents in this area ransacked a liquor shop in the locality that was recently shifted from OMR. One of Aakash’s demands is that the police must close the ‘false’ cases against the people who protested against the liquor shop.
Around 11.45 am, Akash walked all alone from his home towards the liquor shop, which was about 1 km away. He was stopped by the police on the way. The child then sat on the middle of the road with the placard carefully placed to stand using a few stones. He began reading his school book for some time and then gave bytes to a bunch of TV reporters. “They blocked me and said the wine shop (liquor shop) is closed. But I’m not sure if they have really closed it down,” he told the reporters.
“He is like any other child his age,” his father Anandan told Express. “He likes to play, watches TV serials and even cartoons but he is very passionate about public causes. We told him we would get more people to help him with the protest but he did not want more people to get in trouble.”
The police coaxed him to leave, but Aakash was determined. He laid a towel and sat on the road in the scorching heat to study. After much coaxing and convincing, the young boy finally went home by ending his protest by 2 pm.
“The TASMAC shop was not open on Wednesday because there was apprehension of trouble,” said a police officer who was present at the spot.