Bombs hurled, houses targeted, 3,000 arrested as violence over Sabarimala row continues

Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | ByHT Correspondents
Jan 05, 2019 11:21 PM IST

PM Modi will visit Kerala on January 15 and 27 and Amit Shah in the first week of February.

Homes of an MP and an MLA were attacked in Kannur overnight as violence raged in Kerala on Saturday, the third day of clashes during which over 3,000 people have been arrested for their role in protests following the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple.

BJP workers burn an effigy of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan during a protest over the Sabarimala issue, in Kanyakumari.(PTI Photo)
BJP workers burn an effigy of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan during a protest over the Sabarimala issue, in Kanyakumari.(PTI Photo)

As the police intensified its crackdown on those indulging in violence — the total number of arrests doubled from around 1,400 on Friday to 3,000 on Saturday — the opposition hardened its stance against the government and announced the visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah to the state later this month.

In Kannur, notorious for bloody clashes between cadres of the Left and the right-wing, houses of many including an MLA and MP were attacked on Friday night. The arson included targets on both sides of the protests: the Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Prohibitory orders were enforced in many areas to contain recurring violence.

“We caution the CM to stop the mindless violence failing which the government will have to face serious consequences. You can’t let loose party goons on BJP workers like this,” said BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao in New Delhi.

Modi will visit the state on January 15 and 27 and Shah in the first week of February, according to party sources.

The CPI(M) reiterated that the violence was being carried out by Sangh Parivar outfits. “Nobody can browbeat an elected government. The BJP-RSS are finding difficult to accept the humiliation they faced after women entered the temple so their cadres are targeting party workers and offices,” said CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, adding Shah’s visit will only help widen the Communist base in the state.

Watch: Violence continues in Kerala, CPI worker stabbed over Sabarimala row

According to PTI, governor P Sathasivam briefed Union home minister Rajnath Singh about the law and order situation in the southern state.

North Kerala’s Kannur and central Kerala’s Pathanamhitta where the famous temple is situated bore the maximum brunt of violence. CPI(M) legislator AN Shamseer’s house was attacked and within hours, rivals retaliated by attacking the house of BJP Rajya Sabbha MP V Muralidharan in Thalassery. A bomb explosion was reported from Perambra in Kozhikode district, while a CPI (M) worker’s house was attacked. An office of the RSS was set on fire early on Saturday.

The scale of the violence received international attention, with the United Kingdom urging its citizens to exercise caution while staying in or travelling to Kerala, and the United Nations Secretary General’s office urging people to respect the rule of law.

Widespread violence broke out on Thursday during a strike called by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of Hindu groups and supported by the BJP, after the entry of two women into the hilltop shrine of Sabarimala on Wednesday. Women of childbearing age have traditionally been prohibited from the entering the temple, but the practice was termed illegal by the Supreme Court.

(With agency inputs)

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