Embattled Dalit activist and teacher Bindu Thankam Kalyani is now facing yet another bout of trouble since attempting to enter Sabarimala shrine on October 22. After being chased by protesters on her way back from Sabarimala, evicted from her rented house in Kozhikode, harassed at her friend’s house where she was seeking refuge from protesters, and asked to stop coming to the school where she worked as a teacher, Bindu is now facing harassment at the hands of the students at the new school she has been transferred to.
While she was previously a teacher at the Medical College Grounds Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode, she was transferred to Agali Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, where she joined as a teacher on Monday. She said that when she arrived at the school on Monday, there were protesters gathered at the gate hurling abuses and chanting, and that she had police protection at the gate.
A video from Asianet News shows a small group of nine male protesters from the Ayyappa Seva Samithi standing alone in the hot sun on a Monday morning chanting loudly and disruptively. The protest appears to be aimed at harassing and intimidating Bindu at her place of work. The Sabarimala temple is currently closed and has been since October 22, which is also the date Bindu attempted to enter the shrine.
Bindu said, “On Monday, two of the protesters entered the school. When Kamala and Bhoomi [presumably fellow employees at the school] asked the policemen why they had let the protesters in, they said that they are locals so we couldn’t stop them. When they were speaking to Kamala, they also asked them, ‘can you find out what caste she is?’ and another used a casteist slur, and another one used another sexist abuse.”
She continues, “In the morning, there were not too many problems. But in the afternoon, after the students went out for lunch and came back, the environment of the school had totally changed. They were chanting Ayyappa chants, and hooting, inside and outside the classroom whenever I came in and out in a way that harassed me badly. I took three classes on Monday, the third class I couldn’t take at all. It was a Humanities 1st year batch, there were two benches of students causing very major problems, and I could only take 15 minutes of class. I complained in the staff room saying that evening itself saying I was not able to take class.”
“Later, when the principal called me, they said that tomorrow we will speak to all the students, you don’t worry, come to class tomorrow with full confidence. But when I came to school on Tuesday, the Science A batch in the morning itself started chanting and hooting. I told them this is the situation, if I was being harassed and if it continued like this I would have to take legal action. I explained to them that I was a teacher and they were students and we needed to have a healthy relationship, and other things could be dealt with outside, and that I had no desire to discuss these things with them. Outside the classroom the students were hooting and chanting.”
She clarifies that she feels the students have been instigated into this kind of behaviour. “I don’t think the students are doing this of their own thought or volition. I think some outsiders from the Sangh Parivar have instigated them to harass and mentally abuse me. I learnt that an ABVP unit has been started on campus. I don’t know if what’s happening has been introduced into the school through this group by RSS and Sangh Parivar members.”
She said that the school authorities told her, “Let the PTA and principal look into the matter, otherwise you can identify the instigators, including the students, and move against them legally by going to the police station.”