news Wednesday, March 04, 2015 - 05:30
Haritha John | The News Minute | March 3, 2015 | 5.35 pm IST She’s single-handedly taken up a fight against the drug mafia in Pullikanakku village of Kerala’s Alappuzha district and paid the price for it in the process. Ever since Preetha, a 36 year-old vegetable and laundry shop owner from Kayamkulam began a protest against the drug trade rampant in her village, people who heard of her attempts discouraged her from getting involved in the murky world of the drug mafia which targeted school children. "I couldn't stand what was happening especially when it involved school kids", she said. The owner of shops located in front of her alma-mater, Preetha first began noticing a recurrent practice where she would find some students outside the school campus talking to some strangers regularly during class time. “Sitting at the shop I noticed some students roaming outside the campus and meeting some strangers and I was suspicious and informed the police” she said recounting the story. Even though the drug mafia is well established in Pullikanakku, not enough stringent action has been taken on side of the authorities. Many natives even believed that authorities were very much aware about the dealings of these gangs with school students. “Everyone here knows about the drug dealings. Many knew about the gangs behind it, but nobody dared to speak out” says Jayakrishnan, a native. He also pointed that Preetha was the first person who raised her voice against the trade conducted openly. Preetha Her complaint did not have much of an effect as a police enquiry had no effect on the drug peddling through school students. Meanwhile two students were arrested from the school related to the issue, following which some of the natives under the leadership of Preetha formed a 45 member committee to act against the practice. “I couldn’t sit idle seeing all these crimes, that too the involvement of children was more painful. So I decided to act. We formed a 45 member group to collect details and act against it” she said. When Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala visited their village for a party camp, Preetha gave a complaint letter to him with clear evidences of drug peddling and selling in the school and nearby locations. “To an extent the direct request to the Minister was effective that police was more vigilant and active. Strict actions were taken by the police” she says. However, the complaint came back to haunt Preetha, when a few weeks later some men allegedly burnt her shops - her only source of income. Though a nearby bank’s CCTV cameras captured the incident, the faces of the men were not clear. “It was on February1, a Sunday, shop was closed. When I came running it was completely burnt, nobody helped me to put off the fire, I myself did that” she painfully said. Preetha who lost her parents in her childhood has been struggling to make both ends meet. Earlier, her laundry business declined and had caused her huge debts, but she expressed her will power to withstand all the setbacks. “I don’t know how I will move forward; I already had debts to set the shops. Now to renovate, I took a loan. But I will not divert from my fight against drug mafia.” Along with renovation works of the shop, her concentration on targeting the drug mafia has not wavered. She continues to send regular complaint letters against the practice to the concerned authorities. Tweet

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.