Activist from Chennai wants an accident-free nation

If one has been to Ambattur on weekends, one would not miss youngsters clad in black clothing and white makeup on their face. No matter what the weather forecast says, these people are always there with one goal – to stop traffic violations and accidents.

Heading this group is Veeramani Sekar, who on the outset looks like a commoner. A private bank employee who goes about his work like most working class people do.

However, come weekends and there is a drastic change in his routine life. Out come the kit and placards and out goes the person himself onto the streets, asking motorists to follow the rules, like wearing helmets and buckling up their seatbelts, to name a couple.

“Four years ago, Veeramani met with an accident while riding with his friend. Although they were wearing helmets and sticking to the rules, a rogue motorist did not bother doing that and the duo were left with agonising pain on the middle of the road,” said Mohammed, a close aide of Veeramani.

Something clicked inside the man and he vowed to work towards an accident free nation. “He teamed up with Thozhan, learned many skills including mime and got to work. He chose miming as a means to convey his messages because he has been using sign language almost all his life due to his different abilities,” said Mohammed.

Veeramani can be seen at road signals, taking sessions at schools and colleges every weekend and during government and national holidays. He is also an avid social activist who works towards saving waterbodies and improving greenery in the city.

Veeramani and team during one of their traffic awareness drives recently.

He learnt mime from Mime Gopi’s institute and has been teaching others for the past one year. “He cannot be present everywhere. So he is spreading his wings and inspiring others to do the same,” said Mohammed.

Today, though his efforts are paying off, he has help from 12 aspiring youngsters who wish to make a change. One among them is Madhumitha, a transwoman, who also wants to make a change as well.

She says, “We met at Thozhan and went along with the mission that traffic safety must be improved in our nation. Because I live close by, I join him every weekend and we are seeing the change now.”

Madhumitha is happy that people have started following rules a bit. “I have had mothers come to me and thank me because her son or daughter started wearing helmets due to our constant pestering(!). We hoped to make a change and I believe we are,” she said.

When I sent a message to Veeramani asking what he wants. His reply was this, “India must become an accident-free nation. For that to happen, the public must follow rules and know about safety. Awareness about it must be improved as well. We want more volunteers who are willing to get down to the street and be the change.”

Who says one need only dust oneself up after falling down when the nation is in dire need of a cleanup?
For more details, contact Veeramani through WhatsApp at 9841688478.

Praveen Kumar S