New Delhi: Speaking over the death of Venugopalan Nair, the man who set himself ablaze over the Sabarimala issue and for whom the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had called a statewide shutdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grievance and said it was forced to call for a ‘bandh’.

Expressing anguish over the death of the alleged Ayyappa devotee, PM Modi appealed to the BJP karyakartas to avoid taking any sort of extreme step. He said, “I want to tell BJP karyakartas, this should inspire everyone across the state to avoid taking any extreme step. Whatever points we have, we should express them firmly and convince the people about them.”

Stating Kerala is governed by two models currently– Congress model and the Communist model, PM Modi added that both the models are “models of efficient corruption and inefficient governance”. However, lauding his government’s achievement, he went on to add how the buzzword had changed over the years. Earlier, it was VIP but now the buzzword is EPI – ‘Every Person is Important’.

For the uninitiated, the BJP has called for a statewide shutdown after a 49-year-old man, Venugopalan Nair who had set himself ablaze earlier in the day, died at the Trivandrum Medical College on Thursday evening.

While BJP alleged that he was an ardent Ayyappa devotee and the state chief minister was responsible for the death of the man, police had said that Nair was in an inebriated condition and there were also some family issues he was struggling with.

The shutdown comes after the Kerala High Court Wednesday directed the police to remove barricades at prime spots in the temple complex of the Lord Ayyappa hill shrine at Sabarimala. It had also directed police to lift restrictions like blocking pilgrims at Sharankutti, en route to the ‘sannidhanam’ or temple complex, after 11.30 PM.

The BJP has been protesting over the Sabarimala issue for a while. Its secretariat march turned violent on Monday with the police using water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

BJP workers threw stones and hurled chairs at the police outside the secretariat when the latter barred them from proceeding further. The agitation was led by general secretary Shobha Surendran and Thiruvananthapuram district president S Suresh who squatted on the road and raised slogans. BJP workers, who took out marches at Kottayam, Kochi and Kozhikode, were also stopped by police.

The Pathanamthitta district administration had extended prohibitory orders issued under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in and around Sabarimala temple areas till the midnight of December 12.

Section 144 prohibits assembly of more than four people in an area. As per the decision of the Pathanamthitta district administration, Sabarimala, Elavungal, Nilakkal, Pamba, and Sannidhanam will be under the purview of the police control for four more days.