Sabarimala PIL: Lawyer files complaint with police over ‘death threats’

Naushad Ahmed Khan, president of the Indian Young Lawyers Association, whose women members filed the PIL, claimed he received “threatening calls” for “interfering” even though he was not directly involved with the case.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | Amitabh Sinha & Geeta Guptanew Delhi, New Delhi | Published: January 14, 2016 3:30:30 am

An additional standing counsel for the Delhi government filed a complaint with the police Wednesday after receiving several calls and “death threats” over a PIL seeking entry for all women and girls in Sabarimala temple.

Naushad Ahmed Khan, president of the Indian Young Lawyers Association, whose women members filed the PIL, claimed he received “threatening calls” for “interfering” even though he was not directly involved with the case.

His complaint to the police comes two days after the Supreme Court questioned the age-old ban on entry of women of menstrual age group in Sabarimala temple, saying it was a public temple and everyone needed to have “the right to access”. The court was hearing the PIL seeking entry for all women and girls in the temple, which, as a practice, does not allow girls who have attained puberty to enter the premises. However, women, who have reached menopause, are allowed.

Khan said he was also targeted on social media. His name, picture and phone number showed up on Twitter, with a message in Malayalam, asking “Why is this man showing so much enthusiasm for something which millions of Sabarimala devotees do not want? Who is behind this man?”

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The tweet has been retweeted and “favourited” dozens of times. Other tweets have also been posted referring to his religion and role in the PIL.

According to Khan’s complaint, amid the death threats, a caller threatened to “blow him up with a bomb” and asked him to “withdraw the petition from court”. Khan said he was not involved in any way with the PIL before the Supreme Court. “I am the president of the Young Lawyers Association but the plea has been filed by women lawyers, many of whom are not even members of the association. I have never been involved with the PIL,” he said. Khan said he was “trying to explain” to the callers that he was not involved with the PIL, and the plea could not be withdrawn as the court was looking into the matter.

Advocate on Record Ravi Prakash Gupta, who has been arguing the case in the Supreme Court, told The Indian Express he had received three calls Wednesday “berating” him for “going against religion”. “One caller said I will be really sorry that I am doing something wrong,” said Gupta, adding that he was unfazed. “This is a legal issue. I am a Hindu. Our religion is very inclusive. Such regressive and restrictive practices should not continue in these modern times,” he said.

Kime Kaming, Additional DCP (East), said the police had set up a picket near Khan’s house, and transferred the complaint to the Special Branch for “analysis of the current threat perception”.

During the hearing Monday, a Supreme Court bench led by Justice Dipak Misra had said, “It is our view that the temple cannot prohibit entry except on the basis of religion. Unless you have a constitutional right, you cannot prohibit entry.”

The court asked Kerala government and the temple administration to justify the ban on the principles of constitutionality. The case will come up for a detailed hearing on February 8.

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