The Kerala police on Tuesday arrested activist Rehana Fathima (39) on charges of attempting to disrupt public peace by posting religiously controversial comments about devotees of Lord Ayyappa and the Sabarimala on social networking site Facebook.
An advocate of gender equality and women’s rights, Rehana was booked under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code — deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
She was arrested from her office in Palarivattom in Kochi on Tuesday and will be produced before a court in Pathanamthitta.
The activist, a BSNL employee, was booked by the police in Pathanamthitta on a complaint by Radhakrishna Menon, alleging that some of her Facebook posts hurt religious sentiments.
Fathima had reportedly posted a photo of herself on her Facebook page on September 30, in which she was dressed as an Ayyappa devotee. In the picture, she could be seen wearing a rudraksha and sporting a patta, with the caption ‘Tatvamasi’.
The complainant alleged that her posts hurt religious sentiments of Ayyappa devotees.
A controversy had earlier erupted in Kerala after Fathima made an attempt to enter the Sabarimala temple when it was opened for the monthly puja in October following the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women in the age group of 10-50.
Anticipating arrest, she had moved the high court seeking anticipatory bail, but it was rejected.
Dismissing the plea, the court had directed that police could take appropriate steps in the case.
Fathima was among the two women who had reached the hilltop on October 19, but had to return before reaching the sanctum sanctorum due to massive protests by Ayyappa devotees.
On September 28, the Supreme court had lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine, but a section of devotees is protesting the decision.
(With agency inputs)