Sabarimala’s Bindu Ammini attacked on Constitution Day
Many atrocities have taken place in the name of religion. The violence is not inherent to any religion; it is instead a question of interpretation. For example, Julia Ioffe points out how the Crusades are not only still a sore subject in the Muslim world but they also killed so many Jews in the name of Christian faith that it was the most stunning demographic blow to European Jewry until the Holocaust. This is not considered a credible project in Christendom today. Basically multiple interpretations are manifest over time and in the same time also multiple interpretations coexist.
In our time and our country, they exist within a democracy. On the 70th anniversary of the adoption of our Constitution, we remember specially that they exist under constitutional law. Prime Minister Modi said in Parliament today that in a way our Constitution is the most secular in the world, respecting and appreciating people of all faiths and traditions. There are people in our country who strongly believe that the custom preventing girls and women between 10 and 50 from entering Sabarimala is unjustifiably discriminatory. There are also people who equally strongly believe that defying this custom endangers Lord Ayyappa’s naisthik brahmacharya. The apex court and the Kerala government have been engaged with finding a path through these profound differences.
However, what is indisputable is that when Bindu Ammini made it to Sabarimala it was very much on the right side of law, under rights explicitly granted to her by the highest court in the land and enforced by the state government which provided heavy police protection. Other women, devout women, also share this desire. For example, Reshma Nishanth told TOI, “If at least one woman comes forward, others will gain courage. If not this year, then next or the year after, women will go.” Further, she asked how can a physiological process which is critical for childbearing continue to be stigmatized, when rewriting of old belief systems must continue with every generation.
Certainly people have a right to disagree with her, especially when the Supreme Court itself has decided to refer some of the issues pertaining to Sabarimala to a larger bench, casting doubt on the durability of the original verdict. But they don’t have any right whatsoever to threaten or endanger or attack her. The man who attacked Bindu Ammini with pepper spray, fearfully aimed into her face, has committed a crime that must be condemned by all whatever their faith or preferred custom. He must be punished. To defend him, valorize him is to both encourage the culture of violence against women and make a mockery of Constitution Day. Today there is no space for this kind of guardianship of religion. We cannot deal with our endless differences with each other by taking up clubs against each other, one on one. That is civilizational suicide.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.