Sabarimala, Nov 22 (PTI) Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Thursday met Governor P Sathasivam and briefed him on the Sabarimala temple issue, even as a fresh row broke out over alleged police “high-handedness” in stopping a vehicle in the convoy of union minister Pon Radhakrishanan.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan apprised the governor of the developments at the hill shrine, which has witnessed protests over prohibitory orders and restrictions imposed.
The orders were clamped in the wake of agitations over the state government’s decision to implement the supreme court’s order permitting entry of women of all age groups into the temple.
The governor also brought to Vijayan’s notice the “grievance” expressed by Radhakrishnan, whose Sabarimala visit got entangled in a controversy after the BJP alleged that a senior IPS officer Yatish Chandra allegedly behaved arrogantly” with the minister Wednesday.
The various directions of the Kerala High court on Sabarimala, complaints about police action and the possibility of lifting the restrictions imposed through CrPC Section 144 banning assembly of four or more people were also discussed, a Raj Bhavan press release said.
The chief minister has assured the governor that all these issues would be looked into and acted upon as soon as possible, the release added.
Dismissing reports that Radhakrishnan’s vehicle was intercepted when he was returning from the shrine early Thursday, the Kerala police said another vehicle, part of his convoy, was stopped on suspicion that Sabarimala protesters were travelling in it.
They said the car with the BJP workers arrived seven minutes after the minister’s convoy had passed, raising suspicion.
Police also released CCTV visuals in this regard.
However, the BJP workers alleged that their car was stopped at multiple points by the police and they were harassed.
Talking to reporters at Coimbatore, Radhakrishnan said he saw a “master plan to destroy the Sabarimala hill in Kerala.”
“It seems there is a master plan to destroy the temple, as with these restrictions, the government wanted no devotees to come.”
Radhakrishnan, who was on his way to the shrine, Wednesday engaged in a brief altercation with the police at Nilackal over restrictions on private vehicles heading to Pamba, the last entry point to the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
Asked if he would approach court over the incident, the minister said “We will think about it..if this is the situation for me, what would be the fate of the common man.” With barricades en route, the area appeared to be a “battle field,” he said.
On the pretext of preventing anti-socials, devotees were being harassed, he said.
“This type of inhuman behaviour is not acceptable,” he said and alleged that the police were seen moving with footwear on, leading to a suspicion that there was a “master plan” to destroy the sanctity of the shrine.
Criticising the police action, BJP leader M T Ramesh, said this was a “conspiracy” hatched by the chief minister’s office.
BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai described the police action as “henious”, “illegal” and “very unfortunate”.
“The CPI-M’s efforts to silence the sangh parivar workers will boomerang,” he said.
A day after being granted conditional bail by a court for defying prohibitory orders at Nilackal, the base camp, BJP leader Surendran, was booked under IPC section 120 B (conspiracy) along with RSS leader Valsan Thillankerry, V V Rajesh, Yuva Morcha leader Prakash Babu and RSS activist R Rajesh.
Meanwhile, T Madhavan Namboothiri, chief priest of a temple at Kanhangad in Kasaragod district, who posted objectionable comments on his Facebook page against Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surerdran on the Sabarimala issue, was suspended.
In another incident, police said, some miscreants threw stones at the residence of a 43-year-old woman, who participated in a press conference at Kochi recently expressing her solidarity with three other women who wanted to visit Sabarimala.
Though the temple witnessed moderate crowd Thursday morning, inflow of pilgrims slowly picked up as the day progressed.
The Ayyappa temple was opened on November 16 for the over-two-month-long pilgrimage season amid tension.
The Travanacore Devaswom Board, which manages the shrine, said the seventh day witnessed comparatively more crowd.
Though over 50 days have gone by since the Supreme Court delivered its historic verdict, no woman or girl in the traditionally barred age group of 10-50 has been able to set foot in the hallowed precincts of the temple.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.