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  India   All India  04 Jan 2019  Sabarimala stir turns violent, 745 held

Sabarimala stir turns violent, 745 held

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jan 4, 2019, 5:41 am IST
Updated : Jan 4, 2019, 5:41 am IST

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan blamed the BJP-RSS combine for the violence and warned of stern action against the perpetrators.

The state has been witnessing violent protests by activists of the BJP and Hindu right organisations since Wednesday afternoon over the successful entry of two women of reproductive age into the Sabarimala temple. (Photo: File)
 The state has been witnessing violent protests by activists of the BJP and Hindu right organisations since Wednesday afternoon over the successful entry of two women of reproductive age into the Sabarimala temple. (Photo: File)

Thiruvananthapuram: Hindutva activists and Left workers fought pitched battles across Kerala, hurling crude bombs at police pickets, pelting stones, setting vehicles ablaze, damaging public property and party offices, leaving a bloody trail of destruction during a day-long hartal called by the Sabarimala Karma Samiti, an umbrella organisation of pro-Hindutva groups.

The mayhem left scores of policemen and party workers injured while over 100 public transport buses were torched. The worst-hit was Palakkad, adjoining Coimbatore, and Neyyattinkara, Nedumangadu and Malayinkeezhu in Thiruvannathapuram.

 

The police arrested 745 party workers besides taking 628 suspects into preventive custody. A total of 559 cases were registered in connection with violent incidents. More than 20 party offices of the ruling LDF bore the brunt of the rightwing fury.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan blamed the BJP-RSS combine for the violence and warned of stern action against the perpetrators.

“There was a clear planning by the hartal supporters to unleash violence. Since yesterday, there has been so much violence. Media personnel, including women, and police were among those attacked,” Mr Vijayan said.

He told reporters that the government was not against the belief of the believers, but owed allegiance to the Constitution.

 

He also slammed the Sabarimala head priest for conducting purification rituals after the entry of the two women, saying the Tantri should have quit if he was not ready to accept the Supreme Court verdict. The apex court had on September 28 lifted the ban on entry of girls and women in 10-50 years age group into the shrine.

The dawn-to-dusk hartal was called by the Samithi and the Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP), to protest the entry of two women of reproductive age into the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday.

The BJP actively supported the hartal, while the main Opposition Congress separately observed a “black day” to protest the entry of the women into Sabarimala temple, the abode of Lord Ayyappa, its “eternally celibate” deity.

 

As the state plunged into chaos due to violence, governor P. Sathasivam sought an “urgent report” from the chief minister.

Most government offices remained almost closed as schools and colleges had a forced holiday on the day of reopening after Christmas vacation.

Sabarimala Karma Samiti activist Chandran Unnithan, 55, in Pandalam, succumbed to injuries in attack by pro-Left cadre, debunking the chief minister’s claim that he had died of cardiac arrest. Nine people have been named as suspects while the police has so far arrested two CPI(M) workers.

As tempers ran high in Kerala, the Supreme Court refused to urgently hear a contempt petition moved by a lawyers’ group against the Sabarimala temple authorities for closing the shrine for purification after two women entered it.

 

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S.K. Kaul said that the contempt petition will be heard along with the pending review petitions against the apex court verdict which allowed women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple.

Meanwhile, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) managing director Tomin Thachankary told reporters that more that 100 buses were damaged causing a loss of `3.35 crore to the debt-ridden public sector undertaking.

The spate of violence started with the BJP attack on the CPI office in Palakkad, which was in violation of an understanding the BJP leaders were able to hammer out with the cadre as they threatened to vandalise the CPM office.

 

Tags: sabarimala issue, pinarayi vijayan