Kerala Government has arrested two people for organizing a ‘welcome function’ at the Kochi airport for a controversial Big Boss contestant after a video of the function went viral.
Kerala Government had last week asked all organizations and institutions to cancel all events in which people would gather in large numbers, as a part of a multi-pronged ‘social distancing’ program to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus.
Agriculture Minister VS Sunil Kumar said the airport authorities had been given standing instructions not to allow any kind of crowd, gathering, or any reception or welcome functions to avoid the spread of the virus.
Still, said Sunil Kumar, when lecturer and Big Boss contestant Rajith Kumar landed at the airport, there was a fairly large crowd that turned up fairly quickly to welcome him.
Two people, Mohammad Hafiz and Nibhas, both from Perumbavoor near Kochi, have been arrested, and the FIR also names Rajith Kumar, he said. The Big Boss contestant, who was ejected from the game on the weekend, has not been located yet, the minister said.
“Two persons have been arrested for organizing the event. We will go through the video footage to identify more people,” he said, claiming that the event was reckless and a threat to public safety.
“We are engaged in a war,” the minister claimed. “At a time when people are canceling even their weddings, how can a person mock all such efforts and organize such an event,” he asked.
An FIR was lodged yesterday evening, within hours of the event taking place, he said.
Lecturer and public speaker Rajith Kumar has attracted a large number of followers, particularly from the state’s Muslim community, for his traditionalist and conservative views on gender issues, a women’s role in society and so on.
A brilliant student who went on to become a lecturer at Sree Sankara College in Kalady, Rajith Kumar shot to fame in 2013 after video of a girl student protesting his remarks was carried on TV channels.
In his speech, he urged the female students not to try to ape their male colleagues in dressing and other activities.
“If you jump over these stairs like boys do and fall on your back, your uterus will slip. You will have to spend 3-5 lakhs to have it fixed,” he told the students of Government Women’s College in Trivandrum at a moral instruction camp.
He also complained that mobile phones were allowing “90% of today’s girls” to carry on with love affairs by hoodwinking their parents. He also reminded the girl students that it would take only ’10 minutes’ for a boy to send his sperm up her uterus, and but it would be her responsibility to take care for it for the next 10 months.
“That is why the holy Quran has asked women to be modest and disciplined,” he added.
The clip, which showed a student boo the speaker, hit the airwaves and divided public opinion in the state. While a section of people applauded Kumar for speaking ‘the bitter truth’, another segment was outraged that he would thrust such ‘retrograde’ views on a group of college students.
In 2018, he hit the headlines again after he was alleged to have said that women who wear jeans and shirts and dress like men give birth to transgender babies.
He also reportedly said that only couples who “lived their lives as men and women” can give birth to good children and allegedly linked autism and cerebral palsy to parents’ character.
Such remarks, while frowned upon by media and ‘progressives’, did little to dent his standing as a public speaker on morality and spirituality, and as a philanthropist who has reportedly helped over 25,000 students from financially weak backgrounds to complete their studies.
If anything, such incidents served to consolidate Kumar’s support among among conservatives, especially those from the Muslim community, and he continued to be invited to speak on such topics across the state.
This year, he entered reality show Big Boss, but was ejected last weekend after a fairly prolonged stay at the Big Boss house that gave him a platform to communicate his views and opinions to a wider audience.
His supporters even formed Facebook Groups with names like Rajith Kumar Army, Rajith Kumar Fans and so on to organize support for their candidate, with some of these groups having membership in excess of 50,000.
However, his stay at Big Boss also earned him more detractors, particularly among ‘progressives’ — including those in the media — and among feminists, who tend to see him as a representative of all that is wrong with the ‘patriarchal establishment’.
On the other side, many of his fans see Rajith Kumar’s ejection from the Big Boss house as an example of discrimination meted out by ‘progressives’ in the media against anyone who holds conservative views, and see in him a ‘martyr’ for conservative values.
The reception at the airport was their way of taunting the progressives, and sending a strong signal that Rajith Kumar continues to have the trust and adulation of thousands.
It is in this context that mediapersons questioned the minister about the airport incident.