Other activists like Devi and Sujatha Surepally too were threatened, but the worst seemed reserved for Sandhya

For backing Mahesh Kathi activist Sandhya gets rape and death threats online
news Controversy Saturday, July 14, 2018 - 14:22

For backing film critic Kathi Mahesh, who was externed from Hyderabad by the city police last week, three women activists have been subject to organised sexual harassment, allegedly by right-wing groups. 

The photos of three activists, Sandhya, Devi and Sujatha Surepally were circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook, with a message warning people that the trio were furthering their communist ideology. 

It also asked people to keep an eye on them and questioned if 'anti-national' powers were behind them. 

While Devi and Sujatha were also threatened, Sandhya received the worst form of abuse online as several persons sent her rape threats and also threatened to kill her.

She filed a complaint with the Cyber Crime police in Hyderabad on Friday evening.

The entire abuse can be traced back to an event organised by Bahujan Resistance (BRF) against the 'attack on freedom of expression' at Sundaraiah Vignanakendram in Baghlingampally on July 5.

Mahesh Kathi, who was participating in a debate about a sedition case filed against rationalist Babu Gogineni had said, “For me, Ramayana is just another story…I believe Rama is as much a cheater (dagulbhaji) as he is ideal in that story. And I think perhaps Sita would have been better, might have gotten justice if she had stayed with Ravana. What’s wrong with that?”

This had triggered a massive row in the state, following which the police externed Mahesh, which prompted activists to hold the event.

Speaking to TNM, Sandhya said, "Many of the comments are personal attacks on me and my family. We have identified five pages which posted against me, but there were over 250 comments in total on those posts, with many stating that they will kill me and with threats to gang-rape me." 

"It exposes the cultural values that they so often talk about and also shows the Hindutva mindset," she added.

Sandhya also says that her ideology is not new and she has been an open Marxist Leninist for over three decades.  

"I have been offered various positions of power but I have rejected them all, because I believe in a certain ideology. I have never shied away from it. Suddenly, they have realised this and they are making me a common target," she says.

What seems to have especially irked the self-proclaimed right-wing pages is one comment that Sandhya made during the speech.

"I said that if Rama comes today, he would be booked under Section 498 (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the IPC and if Krishna comes today, we would book him for bigamy. I have said that in the past as well, but without knowing any of the work I do, these people have abused me in vulgar ways," Sandhya says. 

"Wherever atrocities took place against Dalits, we were there. When communal riots broke out in Hyderabad, we roamed around the Old City area distributing supplies under the banner of 'Hyderabad Ekta'," she adds.  

Meanwhile, when the activists approached the Women Police Station, attached to the Central Crime Station (CCS) in Hyderabad, they were initially told that the police could only register an FIR for 'obscenity' under the IT Act, over the vulgar language used in the posts. 

For the threats that they received, the activist was asked to approach her local police station and file a separate complaint.

However, an FIR was later registered under Section 67 (Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the IT Act and Sections 506 (Criminal Intimidation) and 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.

 

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