Home / Politics / Policy /  Sabarimala shrine row, Stephen Hawking and the fake news scrouge

Minister Smriti Irani’s jibe against wearing sanitary pads inside Sabarimala, apart from being controversial, also puts the focus on the scrouge of fake news in the row over the Kerala temple.

The textile minister asked if anyone would take sanitary napkins, “steeped in menstrual blood and walk into a friend’s home" and if not, then why would someone do that “in the house of God". Her comment, made at an event in Mumbai on Tuesday was in response to a question on a story run by the Sangh Parivar-controlled Kerala Janam TV, that an activist had plans to throw used sanitary napkins at the Sabarimala deity. The TV story turned out to be baseless.

A WhatsApp message circulating in Kerala showed late scientist Stephen Hawking on his wheel chair. The accompanying message read: “This is what happened to the Supreme Court judge who pronounced the verdict allowing women into Sabarimala." Earlier this month, Nisha Pillai, a cardiologist from New York, posted a video on Facebook stating that the sway of the “magnetic field in temples can cause endometriosis in menstruating women, thus causing infertility". This caused a flutter among devotees, who saw it as scientific evidence in support of the tradition to bar women.

On Monday, devotees formed a human chain at the temple after rumours spread that a woman had entered the shrine disguised as a man, reported The New Indian Express. After the court verdict, a photo of ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Prakash Karat with activist Teesta Setalvad went viral, claiming the woman in the picture was Trupti Desai, a vocal supporter of overturning the ban. Another WhatsApp message said the government has amended the Travancore Cochin Hindu religious Act to hire non-Hindus in top posts on the temple board, which turned out fake. “We have noticed it and as per DGP’s direction, Kerala police’s cyber cell is actively monitoring this. We booked two people for spreading fake news against IG Manoj Abraham. You can expect more such arrests," said Pramod Kumar, deputy director of information, Kerala Police.

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