Dr Shinu Syamalan had made her stance on the Sabarimala verdict clear with a single line on Facebook: “I was four years old when I climbed the mala, I have never gone there after that,” followed by a sad emoticon. When the post was greeted by obscene comments, the doctor gave a mild warning: “It would be good if you make decent comments. I may or may not go to Sabarimala, but if you post obscene messages and comments, you’ll face the consequences. I won’t forgive everything because I am a doctor.”
But then her next detailed opinion post on Sabarimala brought on a really vulgar comment. Dr Shinu had written about several rituals and practices that changed over the years, and how these changes, such as the end of untouchability or Sati were at first opposed by a majority who feared ‘the wrath of god’. She wrote that time had proved them all to be the right decisions, and time will also prove the verdict on Sabarimala, allowing entry to women, to be right. “Even otherwise, it is alright. I was an LKG student when I (visited the temple and) saw Lord Ayyappa. The tantri had called me and given me the offering. Now when I take that offering again, if there are people who are annoyed by it, I will show them the photo of my temple visit.”
In response came a vulgar comment from a man called Sujith PS. He wrote that the Supreme Court had earlier given another verdict, decriminalising section 497, so adultery is no longer a criminal offence. “Could you do that too? And then share that video and photo. After that we will see about the Sabarimala verdict. If you do that, it won’t be just me but everyone that supports you (about going to Sabarimala),” he wrote.
Dr Shinu took a screenshot, took pictures and proofs of his Facebook profile and promptly made a complaint to the Thrissur City Police Commissioner. “It is not anyone I know, but a random comment. He has deactivated his profile now, but I also had his phone number that I saved from another comment he wrote,” says the doctor who is also a writer and social worker. She now works with the ESI Hospital in Shornur.
After registering her complaint, Dr Shinu wrote another post: “There is no reason to tolerate this silently. Women should be respected. Not just the women in your family but others too. One should be careful about posting every vulgar word that comes to one on social media. Times have changed; laws too.”