On September 12, a young techie in Chennai met with a gruesome death immediately after an illegal banner fell on her, on the busy Thuraipakkam- Pallavaram road. As anger swept through the state over her fate, in Coimbatore, 32-year-old Revathy could only feel numb with grief as television channels played out 23-year-old Subashri's final moments.
Revathy lost her brother in 2017 in a similar accident, where the 32-year-old victim Raghupathy allegedly crashed into an illegal AIADMK hoarding and then came under a truck. Two years since the young engineer's death, his sister says that it is only the public that can herald change.
"Lawful action against those involved is necessary but for larger change people need to have a re-look at their mindset," says Revathy. "It is not about a single party being responsible for the accident because irrespective of the government in power, these incidents continue," she adds.
Revathy says every single resident in the state must take responsibility for what has happened.
"We as members of the public don't raise our voices till someone is dead. Why do we wait for something terrible to happen? Every individual has to come to the realisation that these banners are dangerous and have to be eliminated," says Revathy. "There are so many people who saw the banners before Subashri's death and did nothing. Can we punish them all? We can only hope that individuals will understand that they need to call out such issues and address them before we lose more lives," she explains.
Revathy points out that all officials, from the Chief Minister to a corporation worker should be held to highest standards and ensure that their job is done.
"We see so many deaths due to civic apathy - be it electric wires, sewage cleaning or banners. Everyone knows the reality," she says. "So each one of us has to change for society to change. My brother and Subashri have lost their lives because we stayed silent. Their deaths should not go in vain."
In the two years since her brother's death, Revathy says she constantly reflected on the family's loss.
"There is not a day that passed without a thought about my brother," she says. "But as people who have faced the loss, we can only resign to our fate and hope that their deaths will create the change that our society needs."