Janmashtami processions involving children become the latest flashpoint between the CPI(M) and BJP in Kerala’s Kannur district. A day after registering a case in Payyannur in connection with parading of a three-year-old child dressed as Krishna and tied to a peepal leaf model mounted atop a vehicle, a similar case was lodged in Taliparamba town on Saturday.
Both complaints were lodged against Balagokulam, a children’s outfit linked with the Sangh Parivar that organised the events. Deputy Superintendent of Police K V Venugopal said the cases were registered under Section 75 (cruelty to child) of Juvenile Justice Act on complaints by Balasangam, a pro-CPI(M) children’s organisation. “We have not recorded anyone’s statement; no parent has come forward with a complaint. Several children had participated in the processions, so we don’t know whose child was mounted on the vehicle,” Venugopal said.
V P Ramachandran, an RSS leader associated with the Payyannur procession, said such rallies are taken out every year. “This year, there were six children who took part (in parade). Parents consider this an offering to Krishna — all of them are not associated with the Sangh,” he said. Ramachandran said the practice is prevalent everywhere — “they bring children voluntarily. I don’t know whose child was mounted on the vehicle.’’ Refuting allegation of cruelty, he said the child was seated on a chair and all necessary precautionary steps were taken.
Calling the complaints politically motivated, BJP district president P Sathyaprakash said, “CPI(M) is worried over the turnout of children and women for the processions organised by Balagokulam. The CPI(M) has also paraded children in various processions.” E K Drasia, Kannur district president of Balasangam, said their rallies did not amount to cruelty towards children. “We did not take out parades with children mounted on vehicles. The child in Balagokulam rally was exposed to sweltering heat for three hours,” she said. She said parents are not complaining out of fear of the Sangh.