Kerala: Days ahead of polls, Sabarimala outfit holds 'namajapa' protest

Braving the scorching heat, a number of activists, including women, sat on road

Sabarimala temple in Kerala | AFP Sabarimala temple in Kerala | AFP

With Lok Sabha polls just nine days away in Kerala, activists of an umbrella organisation of various Hindu outfits on Saturday staged a dharna in Thiruvananthapuram to protest the alleged mass imposition of cases against them in connection with the Sabarimala agitation.

'Sabarimala Karma Samithi', which had spearheaded the agitation against the CPI(M)-led LDF government's decision to implement the Supreme Court September 28 verdict permitting women of all age groups into the shrine, alleged that their members had been implicated in various criminal cases "unlawfully".

Braving the scorching heat, a number of activists, including women, sat on road in front of the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, and held 'namajapa' protest by chanting Lord Ayyappa hymns near the god's picture.

The outfit's protest, days before the April 23 Lok Sabha polls, rekindles the memories of the Sabarimala agitation, which had seen frenzied protests by devotees across the state and the alleged police action against them.

The parliamentary election in Kerala will be held in a single phase on April 23.

Addressing the gathering, Swami Chidanandapuri of the Kolathur Adavaitha Ashram urged the Hindu community not to forget the "barbaric acts" of the police against the devotees during the Sabarimala protests.

"The Karma Samithi will continue to raise the Sabarimala issue. It will not be a violation of the model code of conduct as the outfit is neither a political party nor a political movement," Chidanandapuri, who is also the chief patron of the Samithi, said.

The seer said the left government had no moral right to continue in the office in the wake of the action taken against the Ayyappa devotees.

Samithi leader K.P. Sasikala, who was arrested during the protests, said the outfit would extend support to those who had stood by them and the devotees during the stir.

Hitting at the state police for allegedly registering "false cases" against the Samithi activists and devotees, former DGP T.P. Senkumar said the police should act in accordance with the Indian Penal Code and CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure).

"They should implement the rule of law and not the law of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Don't try to scare anyone by registering false cases," Senkumar, national vice-president of Sabarimala Action Council, said.

Sources in the ruling LDF here said the party would petition the Election Commission against the dharna staged by the right-wing outfit.

Kerala had, for days, witnessed a series of violent protests last year by various groups of devotees and Hindu outfits demanding that the sanctity of the temple rituals be protected.

On September 28 last year, a five-judge Constitution bench had lifted the ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.