Tension mounted around Sabarimala shrine and no women of `banned’ age able to enter the temple on the second day following its opening after Supreme Court’s verdict. A day after intense protests and violence over Supreme Court’s verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala shrine, 24-hour hartal is being observed, starting from last mid-night.
The call was given by Antharashtriya Hindu Parishad’ led by former Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) chief Pravin Togadia and the ‘Sabarimala Samrakshana Samithi’. The outfits have been protesting against the Kerala government abiding by the top court’s judgment.In the wake of the 24-hour hartal, Section 144 of CrPc has been imposed in four places across Kerala today and tomorrow.
Incidents of stone-pelting on Kerala Road Transport Corporation buses were reported from some places, with Pathanamthitta, the district where troubled places including Sabarimala, Pamba and Nilackal are located, observed a complete shutdown. Women devotees and journalists along the road to the Lord Ayyappa shrine were attacked by protesters on the second day too. As protests intensified, police had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse agitators blocking the roads leading to Sabarimala.
Six BJP youth activists were detained for staging a protest at Nilakkal thus violating section 144 which was imposed to avert any kind of violence in the area following demonstrations about entrance of women of menstruating age from entering the temple premise.
Dismissing reports on closing down Lord Ayyappa temple if women entered the sannidhanam or ‘the temple sanatorium’, the temple head priest Kandaru Rajeevaru appealed to women between the ages of 10 and 50 and said, “We have never said that the temple will be closed if women of the traditionally barred age group enter there. It is our duty and responsibility to carry out the monthly poojas and other rituals. We will not break the custom,” he added.
Meanwhile, Travancore Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar says the board is ready to compromise. He asks protesters whether they would call off agitation if board files review petition. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan blamed RSS for the ongoing violent protests against women’s entry into the Sabarimala shrine.”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,” Vijayan tweeted.