Hours after Janam TV flashed news about her going to Sabarimala, a young woman named Sumekha Thomas has come out denying it and said she has filed a police complaint against the channel. In an interview to Reporter TV, the young woman states that it is fake news that Janam TV has been broadcasting since yesterday with a photo of hers.
Daughter-in-law of CPI(M) leader Sasikala Rahim, Sumekha says she was perhaps dragged into this because hers was an inter-faith marriage that included the coming together of three religions. “I am not a believer, neither of religion, nor of god. I have absolutely no interest to go to Sabarimala, I’d rather see nature,” Sumekha says in the video interview. On Sunday, Janam TV had telecast Sumekha's photo and claimed that she was on the way to Sabarimala with a few others who were part of a rationalist group.
Sumekha also takes part in the events of Yukthivadi Sangham and that could perhaps be another reason for dragging her name into this, she reckons. “Earlier, Libi, who was also part of Yukthivadi Sangham had tried to go to Sabarimala shrine, perhaps that’s why they are dragging my name. But they are just trying to create commotion here,” Sumekha says.
Just like she follows no religion, she also follows no party. She’s been married into a CPI(M) family, and her own family follows CPI, but they vote for individuals, not a certain political party, she added.
On Sunday night, Sasikala Rahim did a Facebook live video to expose the fake news about her daughter-in-law shown on Janam TV. Tense and anxious, she spoke about the false news. As soon as the news was broadcast, the family began receiving online threats.
“I came to know about this only when I began getting calls from the party office, from the police and journalists. I switched on Janam TV and saw the news flash scrolling by every few seconds. It said, ‘Sumekha Thomas from Udumbannoor, Thodupuzha is going to Sabarimala with Yukthivadi Sangham. She is the daughter-in-law of CPI(M) leader Sasikala Rahim, who would be waiting at Pamba to greet them’,” said Sasikala, turning the camera to her TV to show the news scrolling on the channel.
She had immediately called her daughter-in-law, her younger son’s wife, who has been at her home for a month now. “She told me that she had no such plan to go to Sabarimala. I called Yukthivadi Sangham and they too had no such plan. They said it is believers that should go there, not non-believers. As for me, I am not a believer and do not wish to go to Sabarimala. I have also been unwell for the past two years, so unwell that I cannot travel by myself without help from someone anymore. So I have not been active in party work for two years. My only contact with comrades is through Facebook. I support the party stand and respect the Supreme Court verdict,” Sasikala said in her live video.
The fake news has brought shame to her family and the party, Sasikala said. There were immediate threats to her and her family. “If anything happens to me or my family, it is only because of Janam TV and Sangh activists. I have no issues with anyone else, including the BJP leaders in my neighbourhood,” Sasikala said.
Many have pointed out that apart from the fake information telecast by Janam TV, what was worrying was also that the channel claimed to be tracking the movements of the two women. The reporter claimed that 'according to the information they had from her phone signal', she was last located at Kanjirapalli. The reporter also said that they had information that Sasikala Rahim had taken a bus ticket to Pathanamthitta and would welcome her daughter at Pamba.
Earlier, Dalit activist and teacher Bindu Thankam Kalyani, who had attempted to enter the Sabarimala shrine in October, also faced harassment at the hands of the students at the new school she was transferred to. Before that, she was chased by protestors 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.
The live by Sasikala Rahim