Kerala harthal turns tense, protester dies after clashes

The day-long hartal in Kerala protesting against CPM-led government’s conspiracy on Ayyappa devotees by making two women enter the Sabarimala shrine, turns tense and also resulting in violence after a protester who was injured in violence in Pathanamthitta district yesterday scummed to injuries late night.  The entry of women had sparked violent protests across Kerala by the BJP and Hindu right outfits, with the state secretariat turning into a veritable war zone for nearly five hours as the ruling CPI(M) and workers of the saffron party clashed, pelting each other with stones, last evening.

A Sabarimala Karma Samithi worker, 55-year-old Chandran Unnithan sustained injuries on his head during the clash between BJP and CPM workers in Pandalam. Unnithan, who was allegedly injured in stone pelting, was rushed to a hospital but could not be saved. The two dauntless women–Kanakadurga and Bindu–aged 44 and 42, stepped into the hallowed precincts guarded by police three months after the Supreme Court’s historic judgement lifting the ban on entry of girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age into the shrine of Lord Ayyappa, its “eternally celibate” deity.

Meanwhile, a dawn-to-dusk 12-hour hartal called by Hindu outfits began today morning in protest against the entry of two women. The hartal, which began at 6 am, has been called by Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of various pro-Hindutva groups, spearheading protests against the Supreme Court’s September 28 verdict, The BJP is supporting the shutdown while the Congress-led UDF is observing a “black day”

Meanwhile, a Kerala government-run hotel in Tamil Nadu was attacked by unidentified persons in suspected backlash over two women of menstruating age entering the Sabarimala temple in the neighbouring state.The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation-run facility on the arterial Greams Road was attacked last night. According to initial inputs, the outer glass panes in the hotel, including those at a security kiosk, were damaged in the attack, he said.

Meanwhile, Member of Royal Pandalam family P G S Varma accused that the Kerala government is taking measures everyday to send someone there [Sabarimala temple] to disturb its rituals. He alleged that it’s festival time when per day 1-2 lakh people used to come to the temple but due to government’s action, it has reduced to 10-15,000.

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation has stopped its bus operations to Kerala for the day in view of the hartal Kerala BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai said, “Stalinist administration in the state tramples believers.” He added the party will draw the attention of the union government. “A bunch of atheists stifling age old customs,” he said

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