Thiruvananthapuram: Since October 26, the Kerala police has arrested more than 3,345 protesters who prevented entry to women in the Sabarimala temple and have indulged in violence following the Supreme Court orders. At least 517 cases have been registered at various police stations across Kerala, the authorities said on Sunday. Also Read - Total Lockdown in Kerala Extended Till May 23, Triple Shutdown in 4 Districts | Check Full List of Restrictions

Earlier in the day, a Sabarimala tantrik’s family member Rahul Easwar was arrested after the police received a complaint that he had made provocative remarks over the Sabarimala row at a press conference in Kochi. He was booked on Friday. He has been charged under IPC Section 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot). Also Read - Cyclone Tauktae: Heavy Rain To Lash Kerala on May 14, IMD Sounds Red Alert In 3 Districts

Easwar, among those who spearheaded the frenzied protests in Sabarimala, had said they had a contingency plan to force the closure of the temple by spilling blood on its premises by some devotees in case any woman in the ‘barred’ age group managed to reach it. Also Read - Pinarayi Vijayan to be Sworn-in as Kerala CM on May 20

Meanwhile, in the last 12 hours, over 500 arrests was recorded at police stations in Pathanamthitta district — where the Lord Ayyappa shrine is located — as well as Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and Ernakulam. So far only 122 are in remand, while others have been released on bail, according to the police.

However, Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra has directed that no arrest should be made of those people who protested by taking part in singing hymns and prayers. These arrests have been made for defying the September 28 Supreme Court order that overturned a ban on women of menstrual age (10-50 years) from entering the hilltop temple where celibate deity Lord Ayyappa is worshipped.

Defending the arrests, state Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Sunday told the media that this was normal police action when the rule of law is breached. “During the previous Congress-led UDF rule, over four lakh cases were registered against our workers. Is it not natural for the police to act when rules are broken?” asked Balakrishnan.

On October 17, the temple opened for the five-day monthly puja. However, the protesters ensured that no women in the barred age group could enter sanctum sanctorum until October 22 when the gates closed.

It should be noted that BJP National President Amit Shah on Saturday extended support to the Sabarimala devotees and said that the party cadre would dissolve the Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala if one more devotee is arrested.

“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.

With agency inputs