Thiruvananthapuram: Protests erupted at different places in Kerala after two women in their 40s entered the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. The activists of RSS-led Sabarimala Karma Samithi and BJP blocked roads and forced closure of shops at several places.
The BJP organised protest marches to the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram and road blockades in Kollam and Ernakulam. Also, clashes erupted between the BJP workers and police in the city. Police used stun grenades, tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse the protesters.
Protests by BJP workers also turned violent in Vadakkekar at Ernakulam. They pelted stones at KSRTC bus causing injuries to the driver. Vadakkekara police arrested two persons in connection with the incident. Police said more persons will be arrested.
Various BJP-led Hindu organisations have called for a dawn-to-dusk shutdown on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Congress has also vowed to organise agitations throughout the state.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the entry of the women into the shrine “hurt” the sentiments of devotees and it shows the headstrong attitude of the chief minister to take women of the traditionally “barred” age group to the temple.
“Who took them to the temple just after the women’s wall? They were absconding for many days after their first attempt to trek the hill on December 24. It’s clear that the women were under police protection. Police acted on behalf of chief minister’s direction. This was a result of the obstinate attitude of the chief minister,” Chennithala told reporters here.
He also said that the closure of the temple for the purification ceremony was “100 per cent right”, adding the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) will start agitation across the state.
State BJP chief P S Sreedharan Pillai said the Kerala government will face the “wrath” of Lord Ayyappa. He also said the state government “betrayed the sentiments of devotees”.
“The Communist leaders, their future generations, the Kerala government, all are not going to escape from Lord Ayyappa’s wrath for all their wrong-doings at Sabarimala,” Sreedharan Pillai said.
BJP leader M T Ramesh said his party will support the “Nama Japam” (chanting of Ayyappa prayers) protest to be undertaken by the devotees across the state in the next two days.
“CPI(M) agenda is clear now. They want women to enter the temple. For the first time in the history the temple has been closed due to breaking of tradition. The chief minister is responsible for this,” Ramesh said.
Sabarimala Karma Samiti, which spearheaded the “Nama Japam” agitation against the state government’s decision to implement the apex court order allowing women of all ages into Sabarimala, sought the chief minister’s resignation.
“The chief minister betrayed the Kerala society. We will start strong agitation against the women’s entry again,” S J R Kumar told PTI.
Two women in their 40s entered the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala early Wednesday and offered prayers at the shrine, where women of menstruating age are traditionally not allowed.
Despite the Supreme Court’s historic decision on September 28 last year, permitting women in the 10-50 age group, no children or young women in the “barred” group were able to offer prayers at the shrine following frenzied protests by devotees and right wing outfits.
The women — Kanakadurga (44) and Bindu (42) — wearing the traditional black dress with their heads covered climbed the hill shrine at 3.38 am Wednesday.
The women trekked the hill a day after the state-sponsored 620-km-long ‘wall of women’, which was formed from Kasargode in the northern part of the state till the southern-most district of Thiruvananthapuram.