#SabarimalaProtests: Curfew imposed near the hilltop shrine, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan attributes RSS for the Meyhem

As the temple was thrown open for women of all age groups to enter the hilltop shrine of Sabarimala to pray the Lord Ayyappa at the Sannidhanam, protesters frisk vehicles to stop menstural women entering the temple, even as the curfew under Section 144 is in force. The curfew is in force at Nilakkal, Pamba, Sannidhanam and Elavumkal today. Many of the protesters were arrested at Pamba including the right wing activist, Rahul Easwar.

The LDF Government in Kerala is trying to implement the Supreme Court verdict last month, granting women of all age groups entry into Sabarimala temple. As the doors of the temple was opened for the second day today, amid police presence, the furious mob is still indulging in frisking vehicles to look for menstural age group women from entering the hilltop temple. A New York Times reporter tried to enter the temple but the protesters send the scribe back. Yesterday saw chaotic scenes enroute to the hilltop shrine at Nilackal, the gateway to the foothills, where furious mob indulged in pelting stones at the police. The pitched battle continued till late in the evening, where scores of people were injured in the stone pelting. Many women journalists were heckled and their vehicles damaged due to heavy stone pelting. The protesters from the Hindu fringe groups laid siege on the road leading to the temple.

In a latest development, the All Kerala Brahmin Association had approached the Supreme Court seeking a review of the verdict in September that allowed women of all ages in the shrine. News agency ANI reported that plea stated that the verdict suffered from several serious errors that have resulted in ‘grave miscarriage of justice’ for genuine devotees of Lord Ayyappa.

Blame Game

There were blames and counter blames going on over the issue. PS Sreedharan Pillai, the President of BJP Kerala unit said the mob attack on women journalists that happened yesterday was a conspiracy hatched by the ruling CPI (M). He told ANI that around 300 strong police force, who were yet to complete their training were posted in the trouble prone area of Sabarimala and the scene was created.

Apparently, the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, in a tweet, blamed the Rasthtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for the outbreak of violence at Sabarimala Temple. The Chief Minister Tweeted: “Sabarimala has a uniqueness that other temples lack; it allows entry for people of all faith. Sangh Parivar and RSS have always been intolerant of this fact. They have made many attempts to erase this distinction of Sabarimala.”

Also, in a Facebook post, Pinarayi Vijayan stated that the RSS was trying to spread terror. “Sabarimala itself is the opposite of obstacles to a believer’s journey, the RSS is spreading terror and trying to discourage them. These movements motivated by upper caste are intended to break the basic character of Sabarimala,” the Chief Minister wrote.

BYJM Volunteers detained

As per News18, many Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the BJP were detained in Nilakkal for staging a protest. While speaking to ANI, the Inspector General of Police, Government of Kerala, Loknath Behra said that the police will provide protection to all pilgrims. “We will add more police personnel and secure all routes.”

While speaking about the New York Times scribe Suhasini Raj, who went back to pamba from her journey to shrine after the mob send her back, Behra said, “She was not forced to come back, she came back.”

Meanwhile, while acknowledging the violence committed since yesterday, the head priest of Sabarimala Temple, Kandararu Rajeevaru had urged the devotees for the custom of Sabarimala Shrine to be maintained. ““It’s a dangerous situation. Most of the devotees are disparate after SC verdict. It’s my request that please maintain system and custom of Sabarimala temple. I don’t agree with violence. It hasn’t been done by devotees but by others,” Rajeevaru told ANI and added that the devotees wanted to follow the old custom to be followed.

“Supreme Court thinks only about the law of the land, not about the customs & traditions. So many devotees still want that the old custom should be maintained. I have only one opinion, which is based on the old custom and tradition”, the head priest added.

RSS Reaction

In an apparent reaction to the mayhem that is going on in Sabarimala, the RSS Chief, Mohan Bhagwat today said that the Sabarimala verdict had not considered the premise of tradition that prohibits mensturating women from entering the temple.

Bhagwat told ANI, “This tradition had been there for so long and was being followed. Those who filed petitions against it are not the ones who will go to temple. A large section of women follow this practice. Their sentiments were not considered.”

Nationwide Shutdown

As the statewide 12-hour strike had been announced by Sabarimala Protecction Committee, there is no movement of buses across the state. Even the state-run road transport corporation has not plied its buses. The commercial markets also remained closed including Kozhikode, PTI reported.

Meanwhile the NYT journalist Suhasini Raj told the media, who was asked to go back from the venue, who was on her way to becoming the first woman to enter the hilltop shrine after the SC verdict, was forced to abandon her journey by the irate mob, after which she returned to Pamba police station.

“I was given an escort by Kerala police, they had done a fantastic job. During my trek, we encountered protesters who were against my presence. They pelted stones at us & Kerala police protected me,” she told News18. Police told ANI that Suhasini Raj returned after seeing the crowd. “When she reached Marakoottam, she decided to come back after seeing the crowd. Police was ready to take her,” ANI quoted them as saying. If she climbed the hill, she would be the first woman of the menstrual age group to visit the temple after the Supreme Court order.

Non-bailable warrants were being issued against those behind attacks on journalists, State Industries Minister, EP Jayaraj was quoted as saying by CNN-News18. Also, the right wing outfit, Antharashtriya Hindu Parishad, led by Pravin Togadia and the Sabarimala Samrakshana Samiti, another outfit of devotees had called for a 24-hour-long hartal starting midnight Wednesday. Also the Union Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday took cognisance of the incidents of violence that took place in Sabarimala on the first day over the Sabarimala row, ANI added.