Activist Rehana Fathima has been finally granted conditional bail by the Kerala High Court, 18 days after she was arrested for allegedly posting social media content that hurt religious sentiments. The High Court has asked her to not enter Pamba and ordered her to not post social media content that hurt sentiments of believers.
The 39-year old was arrested on November 27, by the Pathanamthitta police, for allegedly posting content on Facebook that hurt the sentiments of Ayyappa devotees.
On October 22, the Pathanamthitta police registered a case against her under sections 2295 A of the Indian Penal Code (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).
The Facebook post which triggered police complaints was posted by Rehana on September 20. It was a picture of herself 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 the Sabarimala Samrakshana Samiti secretary P Padmakumar.
A Kochi based activist and BSNL employee (currently under suspension) made an unsuccessful attempt to enter Sabarimala in October, following the Supreme Court verdict which allowed entry of women into the hill shrine. Ever since then, she has been dogged by protestors who pelted stones at her house in Kochi and demanded that she be fired from her job. It was following this that the case was registered against her.
Rehana's anticipatory bail was rejected by the Kerala High Court on November 15th. In the 18 days she spent in the Kottarakara sub jail, she had applied for bail once and this was rejected by the High Court on December 4.
Several activists and groups have been rallying for Rehana Fathiama's release in the state. From across Kerala, activists had planned to organise events and demonstrations in support of Rehana Fathima, including a â€śsolidarity convention against Rehana Fathimaâ€™s unconstitutional arrestâ€ť, which was scheduled for December 14 in Kozhikode.
The Free Rehana Fathima Action Council, too, planned to organise a similar solidarity event in Ernakulam. On International Human Rights Day, a Change.org petition, which was addressed to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, was also being circulated, requesting the 'liberal activist Rehana Fathima' to be freed from jail.