Violence continued unabated in Kerala for a second day on Thursday after BJP workers protesting the entry of two women at Sabarimala temple clashed with police and CPI(M) workers across the state. The clashes led Kerala Governor P Sathasivam to ask the state government for a report on the law and order situation.
The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by BJP and the Sabarimala Action Council — an umbrella outfit of Hindu organisations opposing the entry to women of menstruating age as per the Supreme Court’s order — paralysed life in the state. Vehicular traffic was badly affected after activists of the BJP and the action council blocked roads in cities and rural areas.
The resistance of traders, the tourism industry and anti-hartal movements against the recurring strike went in vain amidst the mounting resentment of BJP workers and Sabarimala devotees. When the traders’ associations decided to boycott the hartal, the BJP gave it a communal tone by saying that the traders call was a challenge to the Hindu community.
In many places, BJP workers either forced traders to down their shutters or attacked shops which had opened.
During the protests, two police stations were attacked and scores of CPI(M) offices were vandalised by agitators. Crude bombs were hurled into police station in Thiruvananthapuram rural district. In many places, the protest turned into a street fight between the BJP and CPI(M). Police were forced to use teargas to disperse the BJP activists, and 31 policemen were injured and around 100 buses of the state-owned transport corporation were damaged since Wednesday noon.
Meanwhile, six BJP workers were stabbed in different incidents. In one incident, at Vadanappally in Thrissur, three BJP workers were stabbed, allegedly by activists of the right wing Muslim party Social Democratic Party of India, when the BJP workers tried to prevent shops from functioning.
A leader of SFI — the student wing of the CPI(M) — was seriously injured when an explosive went off in his hand on Wednesday night while he was allegedly targeting the BJP.
An official communication from the police said as many as 745 persons had been arrested, while 628 others had been taken into preventive custody in connection with the violent incidents.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that the Sangh Parivar was trying to torpedo the Supreme Court order. “Today is the fifth hartal by the BJP against the Supreme Court verdict. People are familiar with the violence unleashed by the Sangh Parivar at Sabarimala. The government would strongly deal with the violence. The government would not take any women by force to Sabarimala. At the same time, it would give protection for those who want to visit the temple,” he said.
Governor Sathasivam said he has sought a report from the government on the law and order situation in the state. “…I appeal to all sections of people to maintain calm and peace,” he posted on his Twitter account.
The CM also strongly criticised the Sabarimala temple supreme priest or thantri who had shut the temple for “purification” after the two women entered the shrine. “He should quit, saying ‘I can’t obey the court directive’,” he said.
However, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the CM was responsible for the violence in the state. “The chief minister is creating venue for the BJP and Sangh Parivar,” he said.
‘No conspiracy behind visit’
Thiruvananthapuram: The two women who had visited the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday have said that there was no conspiracy behind their visit to the shrine.
A Bindu and Kanakadurga, both in their 40s, were speaking to a TV channel from an undisclosed location.
“…We approached police with an application and they provided security for us,” said Bindu, an assistant professor at a legal school and a former CPI(ML) activist.
Kanakadurga said the decision to visit Sabarimala was personal. “We were not taken to the shrine by ambulance as being stated. We trekked to the hill shrine from base station Pamba on foot along with other pilgrims,” she said. —ENS