New Delhi: BJP Kerala president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai was booked on Thursday by the police for his speech in connection with Sabarimala protests on a day when the saffron party launched a rath yatra for “protecting” the Ayyappa temple’s traditions and rituals.
The case was registered by police in Kozhikode on a complaint by journalist Shybin alleging that Pillai had instigated people to protest against entry of women aged between 10-50 years into the shrine recently, police said.
Pillai then accused the CPI(M) and Congress of ‘witch hunting’ and trying to ‘tarnish’ his image.
The development came as the BJP-NDA embarked on a rath yatra from Kasaragod to “protect” the traditions and rituals of the hill shrine at Sabarimala, which recently witnessed violent protests against the entry of women into the temple.
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The BJP, which has been desperately trying to make its presence felt in the bi-polar political scenario of Kerala, has lent its support to the agitation against the LDF government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages to offer prayers at the temple.
Pillai and Tushar Vellapally, leader of BDJS, an ally of the NDA in Kerala, are leading the ‘Sabarimala Samrakshana Rath Yatra’ from Kasaragod to Erumeli, which was kicked off by senior BJP leader and former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
The Kerala government should “apply its mind” and show seriousness to resolve the impasse at Sabarimala, Yeddyurappa said. “We are not against the SC verdict. But sentiments of the people should be respected by one and all,” he said.
Police said Pillai has been booked under section 505 (1) (B) of IPC (intent to incite or which is likely to incite persons to commit any offence), a non-cognisable offence, in connection with his November 4 address to BJP Yuva Morcha workers in Kozhikide.
Last week, TV channels aired a video clip in which Pillai said the Sabarimala agitations were “planned and orchestrated” by the party as part of its “agenda” and was a “golden opportunity” for the saffron party.
Ayyappa devotees protest against the Supreme Court’s order allowing the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple. Credit: PTI
He had also said that tantri (head priest) Kandararu Rajeevaru of the temple had sought his opinion on closing the sanctum sanctorum to prevent women of menstrual age from entering the shrine when it opened from October 17-22, kicking up a huge row.
Meanwhile, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the Ayyappa shrine, has sought an explanation from the tantri, but made it clear that the procedure was just a formality as the head priest had already rejected Pillai’s claim.
Addressing the workers at Mathur in Kasaragod, Pillai on Thursday hit out at the CPI(M), alleging that it was trying to destroy the Sabarimala temple.
The main opposition Congress also launched a yatra from Kasaragod to Pathnamthitta led by its state unit working president K. Sudhakaran against the “politicisation” of the Sabarimala issue by the CPI(M) and BJP.
Similar yatras will also be taken out by several Congress leaders from Alapuzha, Thiruvananthapuram, Thodupuzha and Palakkad in the coming days which will culminate on November 15 at Pathnamthitta, in which district the shrine is located.
Taking a dig at the Congress and the BJP, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said some people have started the two yatras. “We do not know where and when the two processions will join together.”
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He asserted that the LDF government was totally with the believers. However, it would not tolerate any attempts to create trouble.
Kerala has been on boil after the September 28 verdict permitting women of all age groups into the temple, with right-wing and Hindu outfits on a warpath over the state government’s decision to go ahead and implement the top court verdict.
The hill shrine had recently witnessed protests by devotees against the attempt by some young women, including journalists, to enter the temple.
Justice Sunil Thomas termed the violence “unjustifiable” and agreed with the state’s contention that the protests and violence at the hill shrine and its key entry points were against the apex court directives.