BJP seeks Guv intervention to ensure peace at Sabarimala

Kerala Governor P Sathasivam

Kochi: A central BJP delegation Sunday met Kerala Governor P Sathasivam here and sought his urgent intervention to ensure peace and tranquillity returns to Sabarimala, saying that the present situation there was akin to an ‘undeclared emergency’ imposed by the state government.

The eight-member BJP delegation, led by Saroj Pandey, BJP General Secretary, submitted a petition, demanding the lifting of prohibitory orders in and around Sabarimala. They demanded that the ‘suppression’ of fundamental rights at the shrine be immediately called off.

The delegation, formed by party chief Amit Shah to get a first-hand account of the ongoing agitation at the shrine over the issue of entry of women in menstrual age and police ‘atrocities’ on pilgrims, will submit its report within 15 days to him.

Shah had last month pledged the party’s full support to the agitation by devotees and right wing outfits, who are up in arms against the state government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court order, allowing entry of all women into the shrine.

“We seek urgent intervention and appropriate action by your excellency without further delay so as to ensure that the peace and tranquillity is back in Sabarimala,” they said.

“The present situation in and around Sabarimala could be traced to the undeclared emergency imposed by the state government. No pilgrimage center in the country or world had the ill-fate of prohibitory orders being enforced, that too with no valid reason,” they said.

It said that the ‘mischief’ played by Kerala’s ruling CPI(M)-led government in Sabarimala devotees was two fold. “Firstly, there is hardly any basic facility provided at the hill shrine. Shelter, drinking water and even toilets are denied to pilgrims. The threat of epidemics looms large due to the lack of sanitation,” it said.

Further, shops and restaurants have been rolling down their shutters as there was not much business. Many shop owners have said they have no option other than to commit suicide as they have fallen into a debt trap, the delegation said.

Secondly, pilgrims were being mentally and physically harassed by police in the name of security, the team alleged. “Anybody and everybody, including children chanting hymns or singing bhajans at the shrine, are arrested and put behind bars. False cases are framed against them, often unbailable. Even top leaders, including a Union Minister, had to bear the brunt of the police,” they said.

A case in point was the ‘impolite’ and ‘harsh treatment’ to Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan during his visit to Sabarimala, it said. “Worse was the experience of Hindu Aikya Vedi’s popular president K P Sasikala,” they said.

BJP state general secretary K Surendran, “a top ranking politician of the state” was arrested on his way to Sabarimala. False cases are framed against him almost every day since then and he was taken around the state, from one prison to prison, ignoring his health condition, they alleged.

Surendran has been behind bars for the past two weeks. The delegation said that police have not shown any consideration even to the aged or small children.

“The Sabarimala pilgrimage is now a nightmare for ordinary pilgrims,” they said. The ‘harassment’ by police, coupled with denial of basic amenities was forcing pilgrims to keep off Sabarimala and this was reflected in the steep decrease in the number of pilgrims arriving at the shrine and the sharp decline in revenue, they said.

“Normalcy has to be restored at the earliest at Sabarimala. The state and the people can no more afford to allow the present state of affairs there to continue even for a day more.

“Already we have paid a very high price for the false prestige of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Innocent devotees who are penalised and punished for chanting hymns should be ensured all freedom at Sabarimala,” the delegation said.