New Delhi: Extending full support to the ongoing protest led by devotees of Lord Ayyappa who are opposing the entry of women to the Sabarimala Temple, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah asserted that the ruling party is standing like rock with devotees of lord Ayappa.

“Today in Kerala a struggle is going on between religious beliefs and state Govt’s cruelty. The Left government in Kerala has misused the Sabarimala issue. More than 2000 activists and workers from BJP, RSS and other organisations have been arrested. BJP is standing like a rock with devotees, Left Govt be warned,” said Shah, while addressing a rally at Kannur in Kerala on Saturday.

“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. There are many temples in India which are exclusively for women and men aren’t allowed. No man tries to enter,” the BJP chief added.

A number of protests were staged after the doors of the Lord Ayyappa’s temple opened on October 17 for the first time after the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala temple. The Kerala Police have arrested a total of 2,061 people so far, while cases have been registered against another 452 for protesting against the entry of women aged between 10-50 years into the  shrine.

“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,” Kerala Director General of Police (DGP), Loknath Behera had said.

Entry of the females in the menstruating age-group was banned in the temple as Lord Ayyappa is considered to be a celibate; hence the temple authorities only allow girls aged below 10 and women aged over 50 into the shrine. However, there is no restriction on the entry of men.

(With inputs from agencies)