The second day of the two-month-long Sabarimala pilgrimage season witnessed a protest by a large number of BJP and RSS workers outside the official residence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday. Over 70 persons have been taken into preventive custody near Sannidhanam. The detainees were taken to Manniyar camp on Monday and arrests have not been recorded yet, confirmed police sources.
Scores of party members gathered in front of cliff house to protest against the arrest of K Surendran, state BJP general secretary, while he was on his way to the temple. Another fresh agitation broke out at Nadapanthal area in Sannidhanam where hundreds of devotees sloganeered against the police personnel interventions in the temple procedures.
“The state government has turned the temple complex into a war zone. The devotees are not militants, they are pilgrims,” said Union minister KJ Alphons while talking to media at Nilackal base camp.
Other regions of the state like Aranmula, Kochi, Kollam, Alappuzha, Ranni, Thodupuzha, Kaladi, Malappuram and Idukki also witnessed protests simultaneously.
Prakash Babu, Yuvamorcha State President declared a daylong state-wide agitation to further intensify their stir against the regulations imposed by the state police.
The protesters were taken into preventive custody Sunday night at the Sabarimala temple after fresh protests broke out at Nadapanthal area in Sannidhanam where hundreds of devotees agitated against the police restrictions.
The early incidents of violence at the hill-top shrine led to the imposition of strict restrictions for devotees at Sannidhanam. Staying back in the temple premises at night is also under regulation.
However, the devotees gathered at the covered pathway to the temple when they were asked to leave Sannidhanam on Sunday.
Superintendent of Police (special officer) Pratheesh Kumar said people were detained for violating Section 144 that prohibits assembly of more than four people at a spot.
“Section 144 had been declared in the area. We had asked them to disperse after the Harivarasanam but most of them refused,” the SP said, adding that the police was not against the devotees who wished to offer prayers.
“Those who have to offer ‘neyyabhishekam’ (anointing deity with ghee) can stay back. They can recite prayers also. We are not against it. The police will assist those who want to offer prayers,” he said.
The prohibitory orders were put in place due to tensions at Sabarimala following the Supreme Court verdict which allowed women entry into the temple. Those who wished to stay back were allowed to sleep near the Malikapuram temple.
BJP released an internal letter to all state committees in Kerala to take part in a protest at Sabarimala on Saturday. The circular shows a detailed plan and coordination to bring the party activists to Sabarimala.
The circular also explains that party members and people from each ‘Sangh district’ should visit Sabarimala on each day, to protect the rituals and customs. It also mentions what the Sangh districts are, the constituencies and who the coordinators for each day would be. This schedule is mentioned till the 15th of December. The move clearly indicates that BJP is leaving no stone unturned to keep the Sabarimala issue alive.