Model and activist Rehana Fathima, who tried to reach Kerala’s Sabarimala temple in October, was arrested today for allegedly hurting religious sentiment with her social media posts.
Rehana Fathima was accused of putting up Facebook posts “insulting” devotees of Sabarimala shrine’s deity Lord Ayyappa. The Kerala police registered a case against the activist on October 30 after the Sabarimala Samrakshana Samithi, a group that claims to fight for Sabarimala’s traditions, accused her of insulting the Hindu beliefs with what they described as her “provocative” social media posts.
The Kerala High Court had declined to grant her protection from arrest earlier this month. Ms Fathima said she did no wrong.
On October 19, Rehana Fathima, escorted by policemen in riot gear, took up the uphill trek to the Sabarimala temple and was barely a few metres from its main area when she was stopped by protesters and priests. During her trek, her home back in Kochi, was vandalised by unknown people.
Many devotees believe that the presence of women of a menstrual age at the shrine is an insult to its celibate deity Ayyappa.
Shortly after her failed attempt, Kerala Temple Affairs minister Kadakampally Surendran said the “activists with agenda” should not try to enter the temple. Ms Fathima insists that she is an Ayyappa devotee.
Later, Ms Fathima was accused by the Kerala Muslim Jama’ath Council of hurting the sentiment of lakhs of Hindu devotees. Her employer, public sector BSNL, transferred her but the company insisted the move had nothing to do with what Ms Fathima did in her “private capacity..