Trivandrum: Around 1369 people were today arrested in the ongoing protest over the entry of two women at Sabarimala Shrine on Thursday, news agency ANI reported. Further, 717 others were taken into preventive detention, and a total of 801 cases registered till Friday morning in connection with hartal-related violence in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta District.
Notably, devotees named Bindu and Kanakdurga, both under the age of 50 years, entered Lord Ayyappa’s shrine on Thursday at 3:30 AM. The women had tried to offer prayers last week as well but couldn’t do so. (Also Read: Day After Clashes, Sri Lankan Woman Climbs 18 Steps But Denied Further Entry to Offer Prayers at Lord Ayyappa Shrine)
Earlier in the day, two Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) workers were arrested under sections 302 and 307 for the death of Sabarimala Karma Samiti worker Chandran Unnithan. Notably, Chandran Unnithan died during stone-pelting between opposing groups on Wednesday evening at Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district.
A dawn-to-dusk Kerala shutdown called to denounce the visit of two women to the Sabarimala temple saw major violence on Thursday, a rarity compared to the regular strikes the state witnesses from time to time.
The Sabarimala Karma Samithi (SKS), which had the backing of the BJP and RSS, said it called the protest to oppose the role of the Kerala government which facilitated the entry of the two women inside the temple before dawn on Wednesday.
What began as minor skirmishes at various places between the strike organisers and its opponents aggravated during the day as more than 300 protesters were arrested, with nearly 100 people, including police officials, getting injured in the violence.
The worst affected districts included Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kasargode and Kannur.
A number of CPI-M offices came under attack. In several places in the suburbs of the state capital, it was a free for all as rival factions took on one another. In Nedumangadu near here, crude bombs were thrown at CPI-M offices while homes of CPI-M leaders were attacked.
While state-owned and private buses were off the road, private vehicles, mostly two-wheelers, plied. Private cars also operated in Thiruvananthapuram and other major cities in Kerala.
Ten people in Kannur were arrested after they attacked vehicles that went past the BJP office. Even as the two traders’ body in the state announced they would open their shops, in several places shops failed to open.
However, in Kozhikode, traders were determined to open their shops even as the SKS and BJP activists protested. “This frequent calling of the shutdown is not acceptable. We will open in future also,” said a group of shopkeepers at Kozhikode.
After some traders opened their shops in Kozhikode, a gang of Sangh Parivar forces forcibly closed them down. In the process, numerous shops suffered damages. An inter-state bus from Karnataka was stoned in Kozhikode district. Similar incidents were also reported from Kasargode and Palakkad.
University examinations scheduled for Thursday were postponed. All educational institutions in the state were shut.
Meanwhile, the Left government decided promised strong action against the troublemakers. Vijayan added that there was no protest from ordinary people including women over the entry of the two women at the Sabarimala temple.
(With IANS inputs)