PM Modi puts off Kerala visit after Sabarimala violence, 1,400 arrested
The situation remained tense in many areas of the state. Bombs were hurled at the house of Malabar Devasom Board member Sasikumar in Perambra in Kozhikode district in the early hours of Friday.Updated: Jan 04, 2019 20:54 IST
A day after Kerala witnessed widespread violence following the entry of two women into the Sabarimala temple, police arrested at least 1,400 people on Friday to clampdown on trouble makers, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday has been “postponed”.
“The PM’s visit to Pathanmathitta on January 6 was postponed due to some other engagements. Though it has nothing to do with the current situation, we don’t want to aggravate the situation further,” a senior BJP functionary said. This was to be Modi first political rally in south India this year. (Live updates)
The situation remained tense in many areas of the state. Bombs were hurled at the house of Malabar Devasom Board member Sasikumar in Perambra in Kozhikode district in the early hours of Friday, which the Communist Party of India (Marxist) blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for. At least 50 houses of CPI(M) and BJP workers were also attacked on Thursday night. In Adoor in Pathanamthitta district, 40 houses were attacked.
The Travancore Devasom Board, which runs the hilltop shrine, meanwhile, sought an explanation from the tantri (supreme priest), Rajeevaru Kandarau, for performing a purification ritual on Wednesday after two women managed to enter and pray at the temple in the dead of night, catching devotees by surprise. He was asked to give an explanation in two weeks. Earlier, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had also criticised the priest’s move.
“He performed the rites without the knowledge of the board. It was against the spirit of the Supreme Court verdict,” said TDB president A Padmakumar.
The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment on September 28 last year, lifted a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating ages from entering the hilltop shrine in Sabarimala. Women were not allowed into the temple as its presiding deity, Lord Ayappa, was a celibate.
Police on Thursday began a clamp down operation, named ‘Broken Window’, following the shutdown call and subsequent clashes. Prohibitory orders were imposed in three municipal towns — Palakkad, Nedumangad (south Kerala) and Mancheawaram in north Kerala.
The dawn-to-dusk shutdown was called after two women in their early 40s, Bindu and Kanakadurga, defied the centuries-old ban and offered prayers at the hilltop shrine to Lord Ayyappa on Wednesday, infuriating traditionalists.
Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s managing director Tomin Thachankery said at least 99 buses were damaged during Thursday’s shutdown. Employees of KSRTC later staged a rally with the damaged buses.
As the state was caught in a maelstrom of violence, yet another woman managed to enter the temple late on Thursday night. Sri Lankan national Sasikala, 46, become the first woman to climb 18 holy steps to have a darhsan at the temple; Bindu and Kanakadurga had entered the temple through the staff gates, avoiding holy steps which are considered most sacrosanct as far as pilgrimage to Sabarimala is concerned.
According to the police, Sasikala entered the temple 10 minutes before it was about to close at 11pm on Thursday, and was accompanied by her husband. She claimed her uterus was removed after an operation and she does not come under the category of menstruating women. A high-level team led by a superintendent of police in plain clothes accompanied her for security.