Thiruvananthapuram: Swaminathan speaks breathlessly, as if he wants to tell everything that he wants to tell at one go, and so it is difficult to pick out why he has brought his young wife and three kids - aged one, three and seven - all the way from a high-range village near Koothattukulam in Kottayam to stage a strike in front of the Secretariat. Even the notices that he had enlarged and hung on the green railing of the Secretariat perimeter seem confusing.
What has compelled Swaminathan to risk the health of his kids, and the education of his seven-year-old daughter, and sit in front of the Secretariat seeking an audience with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan? He has been in the capital for the last 11 days. His rambling talk was hard to keep track but the notices speak about a quarry mafia threatening to gouge out the hills around Ilanji Panchayat, his hometown. But that is an issue best taken up at the panchayat or district level. He himself admits that the local people are with him on the issue. Further, his petition was accepted by the Chief Minister’s Complaint Redressal Cell. Still, he has refused to budge.
He also speaks about his shack that was blown away by the winds and also another house that was taken over by his brother. Even for this he does not need the Chief Minister as he has all the documents to prove his ownership. But lost in the frenzy of his feverish attempt to communicate his troubles to whoever cares to listen is his biggest worry: the serious illness of his second son, who is suffering from a kidney failure.
It was not as if the system was callous. The three-year-old child’s operation was scheduled on April 27 at Kottayam Medical College. Swaminathan provides a perplexing answer when asked why the operation did not take place. “The boy had fever on the day and so we took him to the taluk hospital,” he said. But why did he not take his child to the Medial College? “They will allow only the mother to be with the child. There is no point if all of us are not allowed near the boy,” he said.
Mr Swaminathan said he wanted to meet the Chief Minister to plead him to change rules so that the entire family can be with the ailing child. While Swaminathan is intent on meeting the Chief Minister, his three kids, all of them weak and one of them seriously ill, are exposed to the elements....