BJP-RSS hold statewide agitation as devotees are detained


New Delhi, A large number of BJP and RSS workers protested outside the official residence of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan late on Sunday night against the detention of over 30 people at the Sabarimala temple.

The members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had gathered in front of Cliff House — Vijayan’s official residence at Nanthancode in Thiruvananthapuram.

Simultaneous protests were also held at various places across the state in Aranmula, Kochi, Kollam, Alapuzha, Ranni, Thodupuzha, Kaladi, Malappuram and Idukki among others.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters
To further intensify their stir against “police high-handedness”, a daylong state-wide agitation will be held on Monday by Yuvamorcha, the youth wing of the BJP, its chief said.

“We have organised state-wide protest against this emergency like situation in the state,” Yuvamorcha state president Prakash Babu told.

The protesters were taken into preventive custody on Sunday night at the Sabarimala Temple after fresh protests broke out at Nadapanthal area in Sannidhanam where hundreds of devotees agitated against the police restrictions.

Even though there were unconfirmed reports that the detained protesters were taken to Maniyar police camp in Pathanamthitta district, officials at Pamba Police Station, which is around 3.5 kilometres downhill, denied any knowledge.

On the second day of the two-month-long pilgrimage season, the devotees had gathered at the covered pathway to the temple when they were asked to leave Sannidhanam.

Due to the early incidents of violence at the hill-top shrine, the police had imposed strict restrictions for devotees at Sannidhanam, including not allowing them to stay back at night.

Superintendent of Police (special officer) Pratheesh Kumar said people were detained for violating Section 144 that prohibits assembly of more than four people at a spot.

“Section 144 had been declared in the area. We had asked them to disperse after the Harivarasanam but most of them refused,” the SP said, adding that the police was not against the devotees who wished to offer prayers.

“Those who have to offer ‘neyyabhishekam’ (anointing deity with ghee) can stay back. They can recite prayers also. We are not against it. The police will assist those who want to offer prayers,” he said.

Police sources claimed they had information that the protesters might create trouble at Sannidhanam and therefore, precautions were taken accordingly.

Rajesh, one of the protesters, said, “We are devotees and we started reciting prayers but the police did not allow us, saying Section 144 (prohibitory orders) has been imposed.”

He said he did not mind getting arrested for reciting prayers at Sannidhanam.