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Shutdown begins in Kerala amid violence over women’s entry in Sabarimala; one killed in stone pelting

An activist of Sabarimala Karma Samiti, succumbed to his injuries early on Thursday after he was injured in a stone pelting incident in Pandalam area.

india Updated: Jan 03, 2019 09:48 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Hindu devotees wait in line to visit the Sabarimala temple in Kerala following the entry of two women on January 2.(AFP Photo)

A shutdown called by the opposition to protest the entry of two women in their 40s into the Sabarimala temple began across Kerala on Thursday as a 55-year-old man was killed in the violence in Pathanamthitta district, which spread to many parts of the state.

Police said Chandran Unnithan, an activist of Sabarimala Karma Samiti, succumbed to his injuries early on Thursday after he was injured in a stone pelting incident in Pandalam area. Samiti is an umbrella organisation of several Hindu group, which has been protesting the entry of women to the hilltop shrine. (live updates)

Two CPI(M) workers have been arrested in connection with the death, officials said.

Three other people, who were also injured in the stone pelting, are said to be in a critical condition.

Police tightened security in the state as the shutdown by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samiti affected normal life in the state. The Congress-led UDF has said it will observe a protest day on Thursday.

The president of the state unit of the BJP PS Sreedharan Pillai said the party will draw the attention of the central government to the situation in Kerala.

“Stalinist administration in the state have trampled believers A bunch of atheists are stifling age-old customs,” he said.

At least 57 buses were destroyed and offices of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and BJP have been attacked in several areas of the state since Wednesday.

Read more| ‘A dream realised’: Woman who offered prayers at Sabarimala

Kerala’s director general of police Loknath Behera has said strict action will be taken against those flouting rules during the shutdown. Behera also directed authorities to give special attention to pilgrims so that they remain unaffected by the shutdown.

However, many pilgrims bound for Sabarimala temple called off their pilgrimage saying that the sanctity of the temple has been breached. Two big groups from Tamil Nadu returned in the morning.

Relatives of one of the women, who entered the temple, have been moved to a safe house by the police.

The entry of Bindu Ammini and Kanakadurga into the temple sparked violence across the state on Wednesday as protesters blocked roads at many places and clashed with police.

Before them, no women between the age of 10 and 50 could enter the temple amid violent protests by devotees, who cited the celibate nature of the temple’s presiding deity Lord Ayyappa, in the temple complex and throughout the state.

The Supreme Court had in September last year ordered the lifting of the ban on women or girls of menstruating age from entering the temple, which has refused to abide by the ruling.

Read more| Clashes erupt, bandh call in Kerala after two women enter Sabarimala temple

First Published: Jan 03, 2019 09:45 IST