(EDS: Recasts intro, adds more quotes of Chennithala) Kochi, Nov 18 (PTI) Equating the police action against devotees at Sabarimala ‘Sannidhanam’ to ‘Operation Blue Star’, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala Monday hit out at Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and asked if the state was under the rule of Hitler.

More than 30 protesters were taken into preventive custody Sunday night after fresh protests broke out at the “Nadapanthal” area of the Sannidhanam (temple complex), where hundreds of devotees agitated against police restrictions.

Chennithala said those who raised the banner of protest were genuine devotees. They were not BJP workers or extremists, he said.

The army had carried out Operation Blue Star in June 1984 to flush out militants hiding in the Golden temple complex at Amristar.

Chennithala, leader of opposition in the state assembly, accused the ruling CPI-M-led LDF of preventing freedom of worship at Sabarimala and demanded that the government withdraw section 144 CrPC that prohibited the assembly of more than four persons at a spot, clamped in the area.

Declaring an “open agitation” against the state government over the issue, he said a UDF delegation, comprising coalition leaders, would violate the prohibitory order Tuesday, if the state government did not withdraw it.

Chennithala said the delegation, comprising himself, former chief minister Oommen Chandy, UDF convener Benny Behananan, IUML leader M K Muneer, Kerala Congress (M) leader P J Joseph, RSP leader N K Premachandran, CMP leader C P John and Forward Bloc’s Devarajan, would visit the shrine Tuesday.

The decision to launch an open agitation against the LDF government on Sabarimala issue was taken at the UDF high-powered committee meeting held here Monday.

Talking to reporters earlier, he alleged the government was trying to “brand” Ayyappa devotees as Sangh Parivar activists and thus helping RSS recruit people to its fold.

“It is police high-handedness. Innocent devotees who sought shelter at Valiya Nadappandhal (covered pathway) were also arrested.

They all are not Sangh Parivar activists who reached there to create trouble. Is Kerala under the rule of Hitler (Nazi ruler Adolf Hitler),” Chennithala said.

He urged the government to take action only against protesters who reach the hill shrine for disrupting peace there.

Arresting real devotees, who climb the hills to offer prayers, could not be accepted, Chennithala said.

The temple had opened Friday evening for the 64-day annual pilgrimage season as the stand-off continued over entry of menstrual age women into the shrine following a Supreme Court order on September 28.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.