Another historic feet as third woman under 50 year of age prays inside Sabarimala
A Lankan woman below 50 years succeeded in gaining entry into the Ayyappa shrine here Friday as stray incidents of violence were reported from various parts of the state, a day after BJP-RSS and right-wing outfits ran riot clashing with the ruling CPIM. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the hill temple, sought an explanation from Tantri (priest) Kandararu Rajeevaru for closing the temple and performing purification rites after two women-- Bindu (42) and Kanakadurga (44), entered the temple on January 2.
While sources in Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's office and police confirmed that the 47-year-old Lankan woman Sasikala did indeed enter the shrine and offered prayers, the woman maintained she was turned away by police and that she could not offer prayers. However, police later released CCTV visuals of the woman and her husband Sarvanan inside the shrine. But it is not clear if she climbed the "pathinettampadi" (holy 18 steps) to reach the sanctum sanctorum.
Addressing party workers at Karette on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, Vijayan ridiculed the BJP and RSS and asked why they have not called for a hartal after one more woman had trekked the hills and offered prayers at Sabarimala. Lashing out at the Sangh Parivar forces, Vijayan said they were trying to disrupt the peace and unity of the state. "We faced the worst floods in 100 years. We are trying to rebuild our state, a rejuvenated Kerala, a new Kerala. We need that unity which we showcased during floods (in August). They (sangh parivar) are trying to destroy that. Do not fall for their tricks," he said.
Stray incidents of violence continued to be reported in the southern state, which turned into a war zone over the entry of women of menstruating age in Sabarimala temple, Friday with rampaging protesters hurling crude bombs and stones at various places. The house of Malabar Devaswom (temple administration) board member K Sasikumar at Perambra in Kozhikode was attacked with bombs in the early hours Friday, the police said. Similar explosives were hurled at a mobile shop in Adoor in Pathanamthitta, they said.
A police release said 1,718 people have been arrested in connection with the violence in the last two days and 1,108 cases registered till this evening. The release said 1,009 people have been taken into preventive custody. According to the release, 174 people, including 132 police personnel and 10 media personnel, have been injured in the violence. Violent protests were witnessed during the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by pro-Hindu outfits on Thursday.
With violence continuing in some parts, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala Friday alleged the home department and government had been a "complete failure." Attacking the left government, he said the state has witnessed BJP-RSS workers unleashing violence in the last two days. Meanwhile, a transgender named Kayal, who arrived at Pamba around 6 am Friday, was turned away and not allowed by the police to go to the temple complex following protests from devotees. Kayal had come in a saree and later changed to men's clothing and tried to trek the hills with the "irrumudikettu" (sacred offerings). Four transgenders had recently offered prayers at Sabarimala wearing black sarees.
Since the LDF government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups to enter the holy shrine, the temple complex has witnessed fierce protests from right-wing outfits, BJP and RSS workers. Traditionally women in the 10-50 age group are not allowed to enter the temple. Creating history, two women in their forties-- Bindu and Kanakadurga -- had offered prayers at the shrine in the early hours of Wednesday. Kerala had witnessed unprecedented violence on Thursday, a day after the two women entered the hill temple, infuriating saffron outfits, with protesters blocking roads by placing burning tyres and granite blocks. Police said a local BJP office in Kannur was set on fire by miscreants Friday. None were injured in the incidents, they added.
A number of houses of the BJP and the ruling CPI(M) activists were attacked and stones hurled in Pathanamthitta, Kannur, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. Prohibitory orders were imposed in Palakkad town and Manjeswaram Taluk of Kasargod district in northern Kerala late Thursday night after protests erupted over the women's entry. The Sabarimala Karma Samiti, an umbrella organisation of various pro-Hindutva groups, and the BJP Friday decided to intensify their agitation against the state government by organising Rath yatras from January 11-13. "This is to protest the move to destroy traditions of Sabarimala temple," the organisers said at Kochi.
The yatra will cover 10 districts of the state barring four southern districts, including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha, Samithi leader SJR Kumar said. Eighteen crore 'makara jyoti' (lighting of lamps) will be lit across the state on January 14 on the occasion of Makaravilakku festival in Sabarimala, he said. A secretariat march will be held on January 18. Under attack from hartal supporters during the violence in the last two days, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists has submitted a complaint to the chief minister seeking against action those who perpetrated the violence.
(With inputs from agencies.)