BSNL Woman Staffer Forced Into Retirement For Trying To Enter Sabarimala

The telecom technician was suspended from service by BSNL following her arrest in November 2018 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through her social media posts.

BSNL Woman Staffer Forced Into Retirement For Trying To Enter Sabarimala

Rehana Fathima was arrested on her way to Sabarimala in October, 2018 (File)

Kochi, Kerala:

BSNL has ordered compulsory retirement for its employee and activist Rehana Fathima, who had attempted to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, for her "intentional" act of outraging the religious feelings of devotees through social media posts.

Ms Fathima, a telecom technician with the BSNL, was suspended from service following her arrest in November 2018 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through her Facebook posts.

Condemning the decision, the activist said she would challenge the compulsory retirement order issued by the company at the appropriate forum. She alleged political intervention behind the decision, while speaking to reporters.

In its order issued to Ms Fathima, the company said it took the decision after conducting an internal inquiry on her conduct.

The company said there were many agitations against entry of women into the temple during the Sabarimala pilgrimage season in 2018 and during this period, Rehana Fathima, "being a woman BSNL employee conducted herself in a manner that had resulted in a criminal case being filed against her and her subsequent arrest."

"An official working in BSNL is always expected to conduct in the best interests of BSNL. Hence, such acts on the part of Fathima AS are subversive of discipline and amount to misconduct," the company said in its order issued to Ms Fathima.

"I find that the acts on the part of Rehana Fathima were intentional and not accidental," Deputy General Manager (Tax/ITA and Urban) said in the order.

The activist was arrested in Pathanamthitta in 2018 on a complaint that some of her Facebook posts hurt religious sentiments.

Considering the protest against her by devotees of Lord Ayyappa and BJP activists, the BSNL had earlier transferred her to the Palarivattom telephone exchange in the city where public contact is not required.

A controversy had erupted in Kerala after Rehana Fathima made an attempt to enter the Sabarimala temple when it was opened for monthly puja in October, 2018 following the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women in the age group of 10-50.

Rehana Fathima and a journalist were arrested when they reached the hilltop on October 19 after massive protests by devotees.

On September 28, 2018 the top court had lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.