Lady teacher who made Sabarimala bid faces right-wing wrath during poll duty

Bindu Thankam Kalyani
Bindu told Onmanorama, she has sent a petition to the Election Commission of India, DGP, district collector as well as Palakkad police over the incident.

Kozhikode: A woman, who made a bid to reach the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabraimala when the intense agitation against a Supreme Court order allowing the entry of young women there was on, was allegedly abused by right-wing activists at a polling booth at Pattambi on Tuesday when the Lok Sabha election was held in the state.

Bindu Thankam Kalyani, a teacher, had apparently provoked right-wing outfits who oppose the entry of young women into Sabarimala temple. She has now alleged that she was verbally abused and threatened by a few men when she was on polling duty in Palakkad district on Tuesday.

Bindu told Onmanorama, she has sent a petition to the Election Commission of India, DGP, district collector as well as Palakkad police over the incident.

Palakkad district collector D Balamurali said he has not received any complaint in this regard so far. Pattambi station house officer, meanwhile, said they took Bindu to Shoranur railway station without registering a case in order to prevent the issue from going out of hand.

She was in the reserved list of presiding officers deputed for poll duty at the Government Sanskrit college, Pattambi, along with a few other officers.

"I was recognised by some Kudumbasree workers who came there on duty a day before polling," Bindu said. "They talked to me and took selfies with me. The others came to know about my identity only when these workers met me."

"I was there at the college for two days as a reserved staff. There was only one polling station at the college and rest of the area was reserved for office works. On the polling day, when I was taking rest beneath a tree in the afternoon, two men in saffron shirts approached and shouted at me. I told them I am on election duty. They left, but more people started gathering in front of the polling station," Bindu narrated.

The threats and abuses continued even when she came out of the college compound to take an autorickshaw to reach the railway station.

"I complained to the assistant returning officer (ARO) present, who offered to take me in the official vehicle to the railway station," Bindu added.

She insisted that a complaint must be registered and same be forwarded to the district collector. She said that CCTV footage of the abusers were available and they could be tracked easily.

“As police personnel were not present at the polling booth at that time, I sought the help of Pattambi ARO. The officials realised the seriousness of the situation and took my statement. The complaint submitted before the collector will take its course, but I have decided to move legally on my own,” said Bindu.

The teacher was in the news for her attempt to visit the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala on October 22. Earlier Onmanorama had reported that she was repeatedly threatened at her school in Agali and her place of residence by the righ-wing activists soon after the Sabarimala bid.

The verbal and social media attack on Bindu started ever since she expressed her wish to reach the hill shrine in Sabarimala soon after the Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all age groups to enter it. She appeared before TV news channels stating that she was ready to go to Sabarimala and expected protection from the police.

The teacher was accompanied by two of her friends during her Sabarimala trip, but all of them were stopped soon after they crossed Erumely in Kottayam district and were sent back by the police. The day after she attempted the pilgrimage, she had faced protests in front of her school from the activists of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other right-wing personnel.