Thiruvananthapuram: A day after devotees opposing entry of women into Sabarimala Temple clashed with the police at Nilackal, the Kerala government on Thursday charged that the RSS was trying to “destroy” the Lord Ayyappa shrine by “unleashing terror”.
The BJP, however, countered the allegation, saying the CPI(M)-led LDF government was trying to tarnish the Ayyappa Temple and was responsible for creating tension at the holy shrine. Blocking devotees from proceeding to the Ayyappa Temple and forcing them to return by creating terror was part of the RSS-Sangh Parivar’s move to “destroy” Sabarimala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan charged in a Facebook post. The chief minister claimed that right-wing forces had always been disturbed due to the unique nature of Sabarimala temple where devotees, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, offer worship.
The saffron groups’ attempt was to destroy this basic quality of the hill shrine and the present developments could be seen as part of that move.”RSS is trying to destroy the Lord Ayyappa shrine by unleashing terror,” the Chief Minister alleged. “The final objective of the Sangh Parivar forces is to establish the upper caste dominance by destroying the acceptance enjoyed by all sections of the society at the shrine,” he said. Making it clear that the government would not allow the temple to be turned into a “riot zone”, he said any attempt to check people from trekking the holy hills would be dealt with.
Reacting to developments at Sabarimala, BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai Thursday demanded a judicial probe into the circumstances that led to the violence and lathi-charge by police against protesters at Nilackal, the base camp. The protesters were opposing the state government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court order, permitting women of all age groups into the Lord Ayyappa shrine. Pillai said the police had “deliberately” triggered provocation and turned Sabarimala into a “war zone”. He also alleged that police personnel had destroyed the make-shift shelter put by the devotees to conduct their prayer meeting protest at Nilackal. “We also saw on TV, the policemen threw away the framed pictures of Lord Ayyappa,” Pillai charged and questioned the police action of arresting and evicting even senior members of tantri family and Pandalam Palace who were conducting a peaceful protest at Pamba.
He said the party would continue its support to the devotees and protest at Nilackal till October 22, the day when the Ayyappa shrine would be closed. Criticising the decision of the police to impose prohibitory orders under Section 144 at Sannidhanam (the temple complex), Nilackal and Pamba, the BJP leader said the matter would be brought before the Centre. “Who created tension and how the violence erupted? Why were the media persons attacked? All these things have to be inquired. So, we demand a judicial probe into the incidents,” he told reporters here.
The Left government should have placed before the Supreme Court sentiments of women devotees of Lord Ayyappa, Pillai added. Addressing media, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said, “fascist forces were behind the violence and the government has no ulterior motive in implementing the Apex court order.” During the press meeting, Surendran released an audiotape purportedly by a Hindu activist asking his followers to come to Sabarimala by wearing the sacred bead chain and customary “irumudikkikettu” (sacred bundle containing ghee-filled coconuts they offer to the deity) to defy prohibitory orders. He charged that this was an attempt by Sangh forces and BJP to mobilise people at Sannidhanam (temple complex) to create trouble.
Surendran alleged that BJP was adopting double standards on the Sabarimala issue. “The Centre is with you…why do not you bring an ordinance to overcome the Supreme Court verdict if you are sincere in opposing it,” the minister added. Senior BJP leader and the party’s lone MLA in the state Assembly, O Rajagopal wanted the government to convene a special assembly session to discuss the developments of the Sabarimala issue. Several people including media persons were injured and vehicles damaged after the protest by devotees turned violent resulting in police using baton-charge at Nilackal Wednesday. Trouble broke out as the agitators continued to block vehicles of pilgrims and pelted stones, disregarding repeated requests by police to desist from such acts.