Hope for Bindu Thankam: Mumbai doc's mass mail campaign spurs Kerala CM to order action 

Earlier this week, Bindu Thankam Kalyani's daughter was denied admission in a private school in Anaikatti
Bindu Thankam Kalyani is a teacher and a Dalit activist (pic: Facebook/ Bindu Thankam Kalyani)
Bindu Thankam Kalyani is a teacher and a Dalit activist (pic: Facebook/ Bindu Thankam Kalyani)

A few days ago, Bhumi, a sixth grader in Agali Govt High School had to discontinue her education owing to harassment from peers and teachers and was later denied admission in a private school on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. The reason? Her mother, Bindu Thankam Kalyani, attempted to enter Sabarimala, angering a few 'devotees' and the 11-year-old had to face the wrath and hatred, along with her mother. 

But after the ruckus, it looks like this mother-daughter duo will get justice soon, thanks to a few social media users who decided to send mass emails to the Kerala Chief Minister, Education Minister and the Minister for SC/ST Development highlighting the issue. Among the people who'd sent emails, Dhanya Madhav, a Mumbai-based doctor received a reply from the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and AK Balan, Kerala's Minister for SC/ST Development, saying that the State Police Chief has been instructed to take immediate action about it. 

Dhanya was elated by the response. She was among the first few to send an email and had asked her Facebook friends to send an email. "I've been following the news about Bhumi for the past few days. Missing classes for a span of three weeks is a big deal. A lot has been written, but what could be the way out, I pondered. That was when I decided to go forward with mass emails," says Dhanya. 

Right response: The reply by minister AK Balan

Dhanya wanted to make it a point that the issue was gathering a lot of attention and that many were in support of Bindu and Bhumi. At the same time, she tells us that emailing government departments is a more effective way of making sure issues were given their due. "Police complaints usually don't harness much attention or proper action. It is a tedious process too. But the cases forwarded through emails by Ministers and department heads are taken much seriously since reports have to be submitted. It is more effective. Investigations are done on time," she says. 

The email, however, wrongly states that Bhumi was denied admission by the Agali Govt High School. But since Bhumi's name was cut from the school's roll as she didn't attend classes for a week, Dhanya says that the email is still valid. "It is a child's education that is blocked here. That was why I wanted to respond to this issue," says this Amdekarite who supports the Sabarimala verdict and the freedom that women gained through it. Strongly opposing the right-wing activists who didn't permit Bhumi to be admitted in Vidya Vanam School in Anaikatti, she says, "Even if one political view is different from someone else's, you shouldn't let it affect their family members." She adds that she hopes everything gets sorted in two days.

Bindu, on the other hand, was still busy sorting things out. She hadn't checked her email in days and did not know that if the email she'd sent to the Chief Minister had managed a reply. But when we informed her that Dhanya's email received a reply, she sounded hopeful. "It is good to know that the government departments are taking prompt actions on time these days," she says. She was on her way back home from Agali Government High School, where Bhumi and her parents met the teachers. "I'm disappointed by what Bhumi's teacher said. He still doesn't admit to having harassed my child and went to the extent of saying that something would have been wrong with her. I feel insulted," she says.

Shambu Jayachandran, who was also actively campaigning to bring Bhumi back to school, says that the issue doesn't end with Bhumi going to school. "The same teacher who harassed Bhumi is still there at that school. Bhumi's safety is at stake as long as he is there," he says."Bhumi should find justice. But, we'll expand our campaign to more students who've been forced to drop out of school, owing to harassment by teachers," he adds.

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