Kerala police Thursday detaining over 1000 people in a crackdown on those allegedly involved in the violent protests against entry of women of all ages into the hilltop sabarimala temple
In the regard Kerala police had filed cases against 2000 persons and issued a lookout notices against 210 persons.
“In a major swoop, we detained more than 1000 people across the state and arrested some of them. We are checking their role with the help of video footage,” said a senior police officer who did not want to be identified.
The temple which opened for monthly pooja on October 18 – the first time after the Supreme Court September 28 verdict allowing women of all ages to worship at the temple – had witnessed large-scale violence and at least 12 women who came to worship at the shrine were prevented by angry protesters.
Police carried out a baton-charge in base camps, Pambha and Nilakkal, when the agitation took a violent turn.
BJP party, which is leading the stir against the entry of women, said it will organise protest marches throughout the state on Friday to condemn the mass arrests.
It is also planning to extend the stir to neighbouring Karantaka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh from where at least 60% of the pilgrims come.The party is expected to announce the details on Saturday when its national president Amit Shah comes to the state on a one-day visit.
After the recent violence during the pilgrimage season, the issue has taken a political colour with the ruling Left Democratic Front on one side and the Congress and the BJP on the other. Both blamed the state government for its handling of the situation that had resulted in violence.
But after initial outbursts, the Congress has mellowed a bit but the BJP has hardened its position, eyeing a split in majority community votes, say political analysts.
Party leaders admit that they have got an “Ayodhya-like issue” and they will use it to reap rich political dividends. There are reports the party’s central leadership have asked the state unit to keep the issue alive and ideological mentor
RSS has started a massive drive to mobilise the majority community. With Shah’s visit, the party is planning to take the agitation to the next level.
However the state government said there was a big conspiracy to turn the pilgrim spot into a battlefield. “We have handled the situation effectively and averted bloodshed.
The Sangh Parivar wanted to fan trouble and exploit the situation. But the secular government won’t allow their game plan,” said Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran.
The ruling front has also started a statewide campaign to inform the people about “real facts on Sabarimala.”
Surendran said the conspiracy of protesters was made public by Ayyappa Dharma Sena president Raul Easwar who alleged that the faithful had plans to make the shrine “impure” by spilling blood on its premises, forcing the closure for purification rites if women were allowed to enter. However Easwar later said he was misquoted by the media.
Meanwhile Four women, including two lawyers, approached the Kerala High Court on Wednesday seeking protection to pray at the temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala, which witnessed clashes and protests over the entry of female devotees last week.
Lawyers Maya Krishnan and H Rekha, Jeejapol PS and Jalajamol PS said in their petition they were in the 10-50 age group and wish to offer prayers at the temple according to the recent verdict of the Supreme Court that permitted women of all ages to worship at the shrine in the state Pathanamthitta district.
They also named 14 respondents, including the hilltop shrine’s tantri or the supreme priest Rajeevaru Kandararu and the presidents of the state units of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, saying they were instigating violence in the name of an “unfounded ritual” held unconstitutional by the highest court of the country.
They have also sought a declaration that the government is duty-bound under the Constitution to maintain law and order.