Protestors on Friday vandalised the home of activist Rehana Fathima, who managed to reach within 500 metres of the Sabarimala temple in Kerala on day three of the reopening of the temple after the Supreme court order. Last month, the top court ended a ban that barred women between ages 10 and 50 from entering the temple.
Fathima, who started the trek to the temple with journalist Kavitha Jakkala, was stopped by protestors at the entry point into the sanctum sanctorum despite 100 policemen protecting her. While she was on her way to the temple, two unidentified men on bikes attacked her house in Kochi. No one was present in the house at the time of the attack, The New Indian Express reported.
“I don’t know what happened to my children,” Fathima said, according to NDTV. “My life is also in danger. But the police have said that they will provide protection.” Jakkala, who was seen in full riot gear trekking up the hill shrine, also retreated as priests began protesting at the temple.
Fathima claimed she had observed fast for 41 days as Ayyappa devotees usually do before undertaking the pilgrimage, the Hindustan Times reported. “I’m very happy that I got this far. I wanted to see Lord Ayyappa, but the so-called devotees did not allow me to,” she added.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tamil Nadu unit president Tamilisai Soundararajan compared Fathima to a “religious fundamentalist”. “Sabarimala is a place of worship for believers not for non-believers or social activists going there to destroy other’s faith for decades,” Soundararajan said on Twitter. “Shocked to hear other religious fundamentalist [are] trying to enter in the guise of activism or secularism...hurting Hindus is condemnable.”
Kerala MLA PC George demanded Fathima’s arrest under Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and for acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, The Times of India reported.
In March, Fathima stirred a controversy by posting pictures of herself with watermelons covering her chest after a Kozhikode professor said “Muslim women who do not wear the hijab properly expose their breasts like sliced watermelon”.