Viji looks uncomfortable when five big mikes are thrust in front of her, reporters asking her questions about her ten days of protest. She sits inside a makeshift tent in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, with a photo of her late husband resting in front of her.
Sanal Kumar, 32 years old, had died on the fifth of November after an altercation with Deputy Superintendent of Police Harikumar, who later committed suicide. He left behind young Viji (aged 26), their two little sons, and his mother.
Sanal Kumar should not be forgotten, like news stories often are, Viji might tell you if she was able to open up. But even as she speaks softly into the mike, her voice drowns into the noise coming from other protest gatherings around the Secretariat. There is one where BJP leader K Surendran is speaking a few metres away, lashing out against Communism. Other right wingers attending his speech seem to have walked into Vijiâs camp. KP Sasikala was there as soon as Surendran finished his talk and Congress MLA Sabarinadhan inaugurated Vijiâs tenth day of protest with a wake-up phone call to a state minister.
âThere has been no response from the government though three ministers visited my home at the time of the death (Sanalâs) and made promises,â Viji says. She means the repayment of loans and debts worth Rs 35 lakh that had fallen on Sanal when his father died. She also means a job for her, to take care of her family comprising two little ones, toddling about even as she speaks â Albin aged four and Alvin, three.
Ministers KK Shailaja, Kadakampally Surendran and Kadannappalli Ramachandran had visited her house in November. There is still no news of a compensation or a loss. Sabarinadhan asked why, when a government system had made a mistake, there was this silence from the government.
It is this silence that the protestors questioned with wake-up calls to ministers, simply enquiring about the status of the financial compensation for Sanal's family. The ministers were apparently busy with a meeting with Collectors at the time the calls were made.
Viji had hoped there would be some kind of a decision coming after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday. But when the release of the cabinet announcements came, there was no mention of Viji or Sanal. Nothing about the promised compensations.
The protest, thatâs expected to continue till Viji gets her justice, is put together by an action council formed in Sanalâs name after his death. They have kept a large vessel â âAkshayapathramâ â for monetary contributions to the family. Itâs reached Rs 26,000 on Wednesday morning, one of the organisers said.