State funds will not be used for ‘Wall of Women’: Kerala CM

Ramesh Chennithala

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Wednesday said the state funds would not be utilised for organising the ‘Wall of Women,’ on 1 January, which he said was a “progressive movement.”

“We are not planning to spend government’s fund and machinery to bring women for the wall. But we will spread the idea of ‘wall of women’. This very idea hits out against those who try to spread darkness,” Vijayan said in his weekly public interaction with prominent personalities.

The ‘Wall of Women’ would be formed on 1 January from the northern district of Kasargod to the southern most district of Thiruvananthapuram to demonstrate the secular and progressive mindset of the state.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the assembly, Ramesh Chennithala shot off a letter to the Chief Secretary Tom Jose, demanding withdrawal of the Government Order to make use of the state machinery for the event.

In a related development, Sabarimala Karma Samiti, one of the various Hindu outfits spearheading protests on Sabarimala issue, called for lighting of Ayyappa Jyoties (sacred lamps) from north end to the south end of the state on 26 December against the ruling-LDF’s ‘wall of women’.

Noting that his government was bound to empower women, Vijayan said, “This is a progressive social movement. This wall of women does not belong to any particular community.” “All are welcome to take part in this. No one can stop this movement in the name of traditions. We have been taught by the renaissance leaders of Kerala that traditions are meant to be broken,” the Chief Minister said.

He also pointed out that the installation of Lord Siva, the deity of Aruvikkara temple near here, by Sree Narayana Guru, a social reformer, was an act of “breaking traditions.” The Guru, a social reformer, was born into a family of the Ezhava caste at a time when people from such communities were regarded as ‘Avarna.

In the caste-ridden Kerala society of 1888, Guru installed Lord Siva as the diety of the Aruvikkara temple, an act by non-Brahmins, which was considered blasphemy. Meanwhile, Chennithala said the govenrment has selectively picked the organisations for the ‘Wall’ and avoided those who had played important roles in the renaissance movement in the state.

“Selectively inviting only a few organisations for the wall, while ignoring those who had contributed to the renaissance of Kerala, will destroy the secular fabric of the state,” the Congress leader said in a statement.

Claiming that the said wall was a political programme organised by the ruling LDF, he said the state funds must not be used for such a purpose. However, the Karma Samiti which met Wednesday in Kochi, alleged that the ‘wall of women’ initiative of the state government was an attempt to “destroy” Sabarimala in the guise of implementing the 28 September Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple.

“Various social outfits, including caste and religious based organisations will come together on December 26 and light the sacred lamp from the north end to the south of the state in protest against the attempts to destroy the culture and traditions of Sabarimala,” S J R Kumar, general convenor of the Samiti told PTI.

The government’s decision to implement the top court order had led to frenzied protests by right-wing Hindu organisations and a group of devotees. The shrine and the adjacent areas have been under heavy security blanket since 16 November, when it was opened for the annual two-month long pilgrim season.

The district collector Wednesday extended the prohibitory orders at Sabarimala for four more days after considering the reports filed by the police commissioner and other officials.