Thiruvananthapuram: The Supreme Court (SC) will now hear a contempt plea on January 22 against the temple priest for shutting the sanctum for purification after two women devotees entered the premises of the Sabarimala Temple on Thursday.
With BJP creating a furore over the entry of menstruating women in the Lord Ayyappa shrine, the saffron party’s ally Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the decision of the Supreme Court should be final and thus contradicted BJP’s stand on the Sabarimala issue and said his party supported the Supreme Court judgment allowing women of all ages to enter the Kerala shrine. ‘The LJP is against any gender discrimination’, Paswan said.
The other developments that were registered until Thursday evening was that Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus services to Kerala were resumed. Kerala Governor has sought an urgent law and order report and said, “Sought from Chief Minister an urgent Law & Order report on incidents of violence & destruction of private & public property in Kerala following entry of two young women in Sabarimala temple. I appeal to all sections of people to maintain calm & peace.”
Earlier in the day, members of the youth Congress protested against the women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple and were detained by the police. At least 100 media personnel, including women were attacked in Kerala within the last two days since protests erupted after two women prayed at the Sabarimala temple, a journalist leader said on Thursday, blaming the Sangh Parivar activists for the mayhem. Calling the act of the two women devotees an unnecessarily provocative act, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Thursday said no matter what happened, they would continue to support women’s equality.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinayari Vijayan blamed both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for turning the temple issue into a war zone. He had to spell out what he thought was his government’s duty in the raging Sabarimala row. He said, “It’s the government’s responsibility to give protection to women. The government has fulfilled this constitutional responsibility. Sangh Parivar is trying to make Sabarimala into a clash zone,” he said.
Different organisations are holding protests in the state over the issue. The United Democratic Front is observing the day as ‘Black Day’. Police have been deployed in view of the hartal. (Also read: Air India Asks Passengers to Schedule Travel Plans Amid Protests)
Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of various pro-Hindutva groups, spearheading protests against the Supreme Court’s September 28 verdict, and Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP), has also called for a state-wide shutdown on Thursday.
As per initial reports, auto-rickshaws and two-wheelers were plying at the railway station in the state capital and various other places. But in Kozhikode, protesters blocked vehicles and burnt tyres in the morning.
Merchants’ organisations have said they would not cooperate with the hartal and keep shops and business establishments open. State DGP Loknath Behara has warned of strict action against those indulging in violence during the hartal.
Various universities, including Kerala, Mahatma Gandhi, Calicut, and Kannur have postponed their examinations scheduled for the day.
Meanwhile, a 55-year-old Sabarimala Karma Samiti worker, who was injured in a clash between CPIM and BJP workers, in Pandalam on Wednesday, has succumbed to his injuries, reported ANI on Thursday. A police investigation was underway.
On Wednesday, the BJP and Hindu right outfits clashed with the ruling CPIM, with the state secretariat turning into a war zone for nearly five hours. Police had to use water cannons and burst teargas shells to bring the situation under control.
Kerala has been on the boil since two women of the banned age group dared to enter the temple early on Wednesday. Even in Chennai, a Kerala government-run hotel was attacked on Wednesday night by unidentified persons in suspected backlash over the Sabarimala episode.
According to initial inputs, the outer glass panes in the hotel, including those at a security kiosk, were damaged in the attack, he said. “As soon as we got a call, the local strength (of personnel under Thousand Lights jurisdiction) was rushed there,” a police official said.
Though the attack was suspected to be a fallout of two women entering the Sabarimala temple in neighbouring Kerala, the official said since the probe was at a “very preliminary stage” nothing could be confirmed.