New Delhi: Activist Rehana Fathima, who attempted to climb Sabarimala in October and was arrested by the Pathanamthitta police on November 27, has approached the Kerala High Court for bail and has stated that there was “no offence that can be made out against her” and that she was made a “scapegoat” to impress the protesters.
Rehana was arrested for her Facebook post, which allegedly hurt the sentiments of the Ayyappa devotees. She was arrested from Kochi by the Pathanamthitta police.
On October 22, the Pathanamthitta police filed a case against Rehana Fatima for putting up social media posts that were allegedly communally divisive in nature. One of them was a photo of herself that Rehana had posted on her Facebook page, which several people took offence to. Rehana had posted a picture on Facebook on September 30, dressed as an Ayyappa devotee wearing a rudraksha and sporting a patta, with the caption 'Thathvamasi'.
The case was registered following a complaint filed by the Sabarimala Samrakshana Samithi, alleging that her social media posts have hurt their religious sentiments. The complaint was directly handed over to the District Police Chief of Pathanamthitta by Sabarimala Samrakshana Samiti secretary P Padmakumar.
However, Rehana has now taken refuge under the freedom of express clause of the Constitution and has question what about the freedom after the speech has been made.
“Our Constitution Guarantees Freedom of Speech. No doubt it does but the question which any Constitutional Court will have to address every now and then would be whether the citizens enjoy freedom after Speech,” reads the bail application.
Sabarimala Samrakshana Samithi had stated in their complaint that Rehana being a Muslim, her attempting to visit the temple has affected the religious sentiments.
However, Rehana has now stated that she being a social activist has always been involved in such visits where she demands equal rights for women.
Rehana has now claimed that she was threatened and abused in social media and “her children were also not spared.”
“By this time, the public demand and outrage as against the implementation of the Judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court accelerated and elevated to such heights beyond the control of the Government and the petitioner was sought to be made a scapegoat to impress upon the protesters that they were compassionate with them,” stated Rehana in her bail plea.
A case was registered under IPC section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).
On October 30, Rehana moved the Kerala HC seeking anticipatory bail, which was rejected by the Kerala High Court on November 16. The High Court had further instructed the Kerala police to go ahead with necessary action against the activist, according to reports.
But now Fathima has claimed that “offence as alleged is not made out. The offence under Section 295A and 505 are not at all attracted. The continued custody of the petitioner in a case of this nature is not required.”
She has also made out a case that the allegations against her does not spell out creation of disharmony or ceiling of enmity, hatred or ill will between different religion or groups or caste or community.
Rehana Fathima hit headlines as she was one of the six women who tried to enter the Sabarimala sanctum to offer her prayers to the deity.
Rehana was given special protection by policemen who escorted her till the Nadapanthal, 500 metres away from the shrine. She was dressed like Ayyappa, in black clothes, carrying the irumudikettu (the two-layered sacred bundle without which devotees cannot enter the temple).