Sabarimala row: BJP to step up protests, Kerala CM warns of action against those trying to create communal divide

Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Thursday cautioned against alleged attempts by some people with vested interests to create “communal divide” in the state police force, even as BJP and various Hindu outfits decided to intensify protests against the left government on the Sabarimala women entry issue.

Addressing police personnel at a function here to mark the formation day of state police, he said certain people were trying to attack and isolate efficient officials in the force in the name of religion and caste. Vijayan was apparently referring to the cyber attack against senior IPS officers, Manoj Abraham and S Sreejith, who had coordinated security arrangements in and around Sabarimala as part of implementing the Supreme Court verdict allowing entry of women of all ages into the Lord Ayyappa Temple.

“Certain people with vested interests are trying to create communal divide in the police force. The government is viewing such attempts with utmost seriousness and will take stringent action against such trends,” Vijayan said. According to police, cases have been registered against 13 people who were allegedly involved in the cyber attack against Abraham. Police Thursday night arrested BJP leader B Gopalakrishnan, recently booked for allegedly using abusive language against Abraham while addressing party workers as part of the stir against the government’s decision to implement the apex court verdict.

Besides him, four other district leaders of the party were arrested. All the five were later released on bail. Meanwhile, BJP and various Hindu outfits Thursday decided to intensify protests against the left government’s move to implement the supreme court order permitting women of all age groups into the hill shrine. BJP alleged the CPI(M), armed with the verdict, was trying to persuade its women cadres to visit the shrine to break its centuries’ old customs when the temple doors open for the pilgrimage season commencing this month.

BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai alleged that the LDF government was trying to destroy the Sabarimala temple, “by falsely propagating that it has turned into a centre of conflict post the verdict. Atheists have declared a war against devotees of Lord Ayyappa,” he said after the BJP’s leadership meet in Kochi. Accusing the state government of trying to “destroy the uniqueness” of the shrine where customs prevent women in the age group of 10 and 50 from offering prayers, Pillai said BJP workers would take a “re-dedication pledge” in all assembly constituencies Friday to protect the traditions of the temple and ‘Save Sabarimala.’

The party discussed its future course of action on Sabarimala issue at its leadership meet Thursday. Pillai said a BJP convention, being organised in Kottayam Saturday, would declare the party’s movement against the state government’s stand on the issue. BJP would strongly stand with the devotees to protect their faith when the temple doors open for a special pooja on November 5 and 6, he said. The party-led NDA would hold a ‘rathyatra’ from Kasaragod to Sabarimala from November 8 to 13 to save “customs and traditions” of the temple.

The rathyatra would be led by BJP president Sreedharan Pillai and Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) leader Thushar Vellappally to gather support of the people including those from all religions to protect the faith, the BJP leader said. “We will seek support of all religions for our movement against the government during our yatra,” he said. At Kottayam, a meeting of Sabarimala Karma Samiti, comprising representatives of various Hindu outfits, including VHP and Hindu Aikyavedi, decided to strengthen their movement against the state government over the Sabarimala issue.

The ‘Save Sabarimala’ meeting organised by the Samiti was attended by leaders of various Hindu outfits and a member of the Pandalam royal family associated with the shrine. Inaugurating the meeting, Swami Chidanandapuri of Kolathur Advaita Ashram alleged that the left government was “crushing the Hindu faith” in the state in the name of the apex court verdict. The meeting decided to organise ‘namajapa ghosham’ (chanting of Ayyappa mantra) in all temples when the Sabarimala temple opens for special pooja Monday.

Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court refused to entertain a plea seeking to maintain status quo on the issue  of entry of women of menstrual age group into Sabarimala. A division bench of Justices P R Ramachandra Menon and Devan Ramachandran observed the petitioner can approach the Supreme Court if any clarification is required on the matter. Kerala had witnessed widespread protests by devotees after the state government made it clear that it was bound to implement the top court’s verdict on entry of women of all ages into the shrine. The shrine had witnessed high drama after around a dozen women in the 10-50 age group were prevented by protesting devotees from entering it after the temple doors were opened for monthly pujas between October 17 and 22.

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