Guevara image on footwear sparks protests in Coimbatore

COIMBATORE: Images of Argentinean Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara printed on footwear sparked protests with students and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) members taking to the streets here on Thursday.

Saying that the footwear belittled the Marxist leader they laid siege to a footwear shop in the busy flower market area and demanded they be destroyed immediately.

The terrified shop owner claimed the image was that of Bob Marley, the Jamaican reggae singer, and not that of Guevara. But this did not mollify the protestors who insisted that Marley too was a communist and that the footwear dishonoured his memory. The shopkeeper apologised and assured protesters he would not sell the footwear anymore.

CITU member Mayilsamy (60) had visited a footwear shop on Wednesday evening and spotted a pair of blue slippers with pink thongs and images of Guevara painted on them. He purchased the pair and questioned shopkeepers about the supplier. They told him that the footwear was supplied to them by J K Varma, a wholesale merchant.

On Thursday morning, around 50 DYFI members surrounded Varma's shop and raised slogans. Police inspector S Balamurali Sundaram and his team rushed to the spot and pacified the protesters. Later the DYFI members were taken inside Varma's shop where they searched for 'Che Guevara' footwear. They could not find any and later dispersed.

"We are sure that the image was that of Guevara. Someone said it looked like singer Bob Marley. But, we are convinced that the image closely resembled that of Guevara," said DYFI district committee member K S Kanagaraj.
He said DYFI lodged a complaint with police and requested them to take action against those who sold footwear that dishonoured well-known leaders.

Varma told TOI that his shop did not supply footwear with images of Guevara or Morley. "I had given a written statement to police that our shop did not supply such footwear to anyone," he said.

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