After midnight protests, right-wing activist Sasikala reaches Sabarimala. Union minister KJ Alphons next

Earlier in the day, a large number of BJP and RSS workers protested outside the official residence of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on late Sunday night against the detention of over 70 persons at Sabarimala Temple.
Sasikala, who is believed to be over 50(Vivek Nair/HT Photo)
Sasikala, who is believed to be over 50(Vivek Nair/HT Photo)
Updated on Nov 19, 2018 12:33 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Sabarimala | By

Hindu woman leader KP Sasikala reached the Sabarimala temple on Monday as opposition parties demanded a probe into Sunday night’s violence on the hilltop shrine in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district.

Hindu Aikya Vedi president Sasikala was taken into preventive custody from near the temple premises two days ago for flouting police regulations and was released after being produced before a magistrate. She visited the shrine with her family members in connection with the “chorunnu” or rice feeding ceremony of her grandsons on Monday. Sabarimala Row Live Updates

She was served a notice by the superintendent of police Yatish Chandra at Nilakkal in the morning, asking her not to remain at the sannidhanam or the main complex beyond six hours. She was on a state-run bus with her family members when she was stopped and served the notice.

Chandra later said while speaking to reporters Sasikala had promised to return and given an assurance that she was not going to the temple for creating any trouble.

“Our aim is not to trouble anyone. We want devotees not to stay back at the sannidhanam but come back. This will enable devotees to worship peacefully,” the officer said.

The hilltop shrine was peaceful after Sunday night’s incident, two days after the temple had opened on Friday evening for the 64-day annual pilgrimage season as the stand-off continued over the entry of menstrual age women into the shrine following a Supreme Court order on September 28.

Helicopters of the Indian Navy made an aerial survey of the Sabarimala temple to assess the situation after the state government sought the force’s help for surveillance.

‘Hitler’s rule’

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress attacked the Kerala government led by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan after more than 70 devotees were arrested late on Sunday for flouting prohibitory orders outside the Sabarimala temple.

Read more: ‘Will enter Sabarimala temple on Nov 17’, announces activist Trupti Desai

The BJPs state chief PS Sreedharan Pillai said there was a “police raj” in Sabarimala and that the pilgrimage to the hilltop shrine to Lord Ayyappa was being affected due to their highhandedness as he demanded a judicial probe into the incident.

“We will move the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Police are forcing pilgrims to go back. It is a dangerous situation. The whole world is watching the naked rights violation in Sabarimala,” Pillai said.

The leader of Opposition in the Kerala assembly Ramesh Chennithala asked if Kerala was under Nazi ruler Adolf Hitler’s rule. The senior Congress leader accused the government of trying to “brand” Ayyappa devotees as Sangh Parivar activists and thus helping RSS recruit people to its fold.

Read more: Sabarimala row: The women who kept Kerala cops on tenterhooks for hours

“It is police high-handedness. Innocent devotees who sought shelter at Valiya Nadappandhal (covered pathway) were also arrested. They all are not Sangh Parivar activists who reached there to create trouble. Is Kerala under the rule of Hitler?” Chennithala said while speaking to reporters in Kochi.

Union minister KJ Alphons also slammed the Kerala government for turning the Sabarimala temple complex into a “war zone” and lack of facilities at the shrine.

“The state government has turned the temple complex into a war zone. The devotees are not militants, they are pilgrims. What was the need to declare Section 144 at Sabarimala?” Alphons, who is trekking to the temple, asked while talking to reporters.

The Centre had provided Rs 100 crore for setting up various facilities at Sabarimala, he said.

The police action against the devotees has led to protests across the state, including the chief minister’s official residence in Thiruvananthapuram, as organisations associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh observed a protest day on Monday.

The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the BJP, will hold a daylong state-wide agitation on Monday to further intensify their stir against “police high handedness”.

“We have organised a state-wide protest against this emergency like situation in the state,” Morcha’s state president Prakash Babu told news agency PTI.

Protests were also held in several places across the state in Aranmula, Kochi, Kollam, Alappuzha, Ranni, Thodupuzha, Kaladi, Malappuram and Idukki among others.


    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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