Members of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), an Islamist fundamentalist outfit, have allegedly disrupted a science show by rationalist activists in Kerala.
The show, titled 'Koodothram' (the name of a kind of witchcraft), was to be held at Kadampuzha in Malappuram district. The programme, which was to include speeches and demonstrations exposing 'miracles', was organised by the Manavam Swatantra Chinta Vedi (Manavam Free Thinkers' Forum).
Poster for Koodothram 2018
But the SDPI filed a complaint with the police, claiming that "religious sentiments" are being "hurt" by the pamphlet issued as part of the campaign for the science show.
The police subsequently informed the organisers that permission for the Koodothram 2018 is being cancelled since the police – which also had to ensure security for a big religious programme in the locality – would be unable to provide sufficient security for the programme.
The banner which was tied near the stage built for the programme was torn up by vandals.
"Those who are part of the light and sound team for the programme were threatened over the phone. The SDPI activists brought their people from nearby places, and surrounded the organisers of the programme, threatening them that they would be "finished off" if they go ahead with the show," rationalist activist Susheel Kumar P wrote in a Facebook post.
"In the end, the organisers and viewers were forced to abandon the programme. They staged a protest march in the Kadampuzha town, with black cloth tied around their mouth," he wrote.
The organisers of the programme said that the 'protestors' threatened them at the police station too.
The programme was not focussed on any particular religion, they said. The pamphlets were separate from the show, and the show was mainly about exposing the so-called "miracles" of 'godmen' and 'godwomen'. But the SDPI protestors refused to listen, the organisers said. They said that the unsaid message of the SDPI here is that they can't tolerate any public programmes by rationalists and atheists.
"The SDPI has exposed their real face. They have shown the way for Hindutva forces, regarding how to implement fascism in the future," added Susheel Kumar.
It has been alleged that religious fundamentalists had also threatened the organisers of Sapiens 2017, a seminar held at Mancheri in December 2017 by esSENSE, a platform of rationalists.
SDPI is the political party affiliated to the Popular Front of India (PFI), an Islamist fundamentalist outfit which earned notoriety for chopping off the hand of college lecturer TJ Joseph at Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district on 4 July 2010. Thirteen PFI activists were convicted by the court in the case – 10 of them were sentenced to 8 years in jail and the rest were sentenced to two years in jail.