Sabarimala: Peaceful Sunday in Kerala, over 5,700 people held

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala was mostly peaceful Sunday after four days of widespread violence involving BJP-RSS and ruling CPI(M) workers following the entry of two women of child-bearing age into the Sabarimala temple, with 1,869 cases being registered so far and 5,769 people arrested.

Asserting that the state government had a constitutional duty to implement the 28 September Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages into the shrine to offer prayers, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said they would not be cowed down by threats of “constitutional consequences” for Sabarimala violence.

Vijayan asked the BJP national leadership to instruct its cadre in Kerala to stop creating violence in the state. “The state has a constitutional duty to implement the Supreme Court order. There is no violence other than the ones created by the RSS, BJP and the Sangh Parivar. And now they are threatening the state with constitutional consequences,” Vijayan said in a Facebook post.

The Chief Minister’s post came on a day Union minister Smriti Irani alleged that the CPI(M)-led LDF government was arresting BJP workers for raising their voice against the state. BJP national spokesperson Narasimha Rao had warned the state government Saturday, saying it would have to face constitutional consequences.

Vijayan also alleged that the Sangh Parivar was trying to implement the same methods that they tried in northern India. “Sangh Parivar was trying to implement the same methods which they have tried on northern India. It’s not going to succeed in Kerala. The state will deal with all kinds of attempts to create violence and communal riots with iron hands,” Vijayan said.

So far, 1,869 cases have been registered and 5,769 persons arrested in connection with the violence. At least 4,980 persons have been granted bail, a statement from the State Police chief Loknath Behara said.

While in Palakkad, 283 cases have been registered so far and 764 persons arrested, in Kannur district, where crude bombs were hurled at the house of Thalassery MLA A M Shamseer and BJP leader and MP V Muraleedharan, 225 cases have been booked and 394 arrested so far.

In Pathnamthitta district, where the Sabarimala temple is located, 267 cases have been registered and 677 people arrested so far. Meanwhile, the Nair Service Society (NSS), an organisation of the forward Nair community, attacked the state government over the entry of young women into the Sabarimala temple, saying it was making planned move to impose atheism on the people.

However, some state ministers came down heavily on the NSS saying it was voicing the RSS agenda. UDF convenor Benny Behanan, however, protested the attack against the NSS by the ministers.

After a meeting on Sunday, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the Sabarimala temple, directed Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru to provide his explanation within 15 days for performing the purification ceremony after the two women – Bindu and Kanakadurga – entered the temple on 2 January.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran and Devaswom Commissioner N Vasu lashed out at the tantri for not taking permission from the TDB. “The temple is controlled by the TDB. Tantri should have discussed with the board before conducting the purification ritual,” Surendran said.

The purification ritual is against the Untouchability Offences Act. “Any action against the tantri will be taken after getting his explanation which the board has sought,” the minister said.

The entry of two women in their forties to the hill shrine, the first time since the Supreme Court in September last year lifted the age-linked ban on the entry of women devotees, had triggered massive protests in Kerala.