Kerala, June 16, 2016:Â Arjun Santhosh is a diligent student. So much so that the young boy swims to his school, every day. While many wait to ferry a boat, Arjun covers 3 km to reach his school in Poothotta.
The 14-year-old’s unique way of travelling is to help his villagers get a bridge, for which a protest has already been underway for a long time.
The 25-year-old protest
Arjun lives inÂ Perumbalam, an island village in Kerala’s Alappuzha district, which is home to over 10,000 people.
“Usually boats are late and I get punished at school for being late. Some boats are very small. And there are too many people. It is a cause of worry,” said the ninth-grade student Arjun, reports Indian Express.
The villagers’ demand dates back 25 years. All they want is a 700-metre bridge to allow people to cross the river to reach the mainland, because the boats can’t accommodate everyone.
The everyday dangers
Transportation being the main problem, Perumbalam has seen far too many deaths in the recent past. In last year alone, 50 people died due to medical emergencies. Because it takes more than a hour-and-a-half to reach the mainland, villagers’ lives are being put at stake.
Arjun’s way of retaliating lasted 10 days. Even though he got the authorities to notice, no solid assurance has been provided.
“He is a minor and it is dangerous to swim in this season. If something tragic happens we would be held responsible for not stopping him. Hence, we decided to send him a notice,” said R Girija, the collector of Alappuzha.
Arjun has stopped swimming to school, for now. But if the protests fall on deaf ears once again, it won’t be long before the boy resumes his mode of travel.
By Anjali Bisaria