Thiruvananthapuram: Days after coming out in support of the Supreme Court verdict on the entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple, Swami Sandeepananda Giri’s Salagramam ashram was attacked on Saturday. The attackers burnt two cars and a scooter, and left a wreath at the ashram. The incident took place at 2 AM.

Notably, Swami Sandeepananda Giri had welcomed the apex court order permitting women in the 10-50 age group to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who visited the ashram, told reporters that stringent action would be taken against the accused, whoever they may be. He added that the culprits wanted to attack Swamiji and not the ashram.

Kerala Minister KK Shailaja told ANI that the intention behind the attack was to kill Swamiji, and held Hindutva ideology extremist responsible behind the attack.  “Sandeepananda Giri Ji is trying to teach people about it. He is also teaching people to be secular & to not discriminate b/w men&women & that irritated some people in the society. I think they are behind the attack. The intention was to kill him, the minister said. She added, ” We suspect Hindutva ideology extremist are behind the attack. Swami Sandeepananda Giri said women can enter Sabarimala & that if we want to keep old customs, we can’t go forward as human society because several customs discriminate b/w men & women (sic).”

Meanwhile, Sandeepananda Giri alleged that the entire responsibility for the incident was on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president P S Sreedharan Pillai, Thazhamon Madom, the family of traditional head priests of Sabarimala temple and Pandalam Royal family. Although, the BJP denied any involvement in the incident, and demanded an “unbiased probe” into the matter. BJP President Amit Shah said, “In the name of court judgement, those who want to incite violence let me tell you that there are many temples which run on different rules and norms.”

The police chief said that a strong action would be taken against the accused. “We will not tolerate such incidents in the state,” the official added.

Since the Supreme Court’s pronounced its verdict of permitting women of all ages into Sabarimala, there has hardly been a let up in agitation in the state. The Kerala Police arrested a total of 2,061 people so far, while cases have been registered against another 452 for protesting against the entry of women into Sabarimala. Briefing scribes about police action initiated in the wake of violent protests, Kerala Director General of Police (DGP), Loknath Behera asserted that suggestions are being taken about how to provide protection to the women.

“We have registered around 452 cases and arrested around 2,000 people so far. We have identified several others and more arrests will be made. We will do what must lawfully be done. We are taking suggestions from a police committee on how to provide protection to the women. We will discuss it with the government as well. Discussions are going on and we haven’t yet come to a conclusion,” Behera trek the hills to offer prayers but had to retreat following widespread protests.