A group of BJP workers were arrested in Nilakkal on Saturday for violating Section 144 of CrPC that was imposed in the area in view of the protests by Sabarimala devotees against the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of women of menstruating age into the famed shrine.
The BJP workers led by state party general secretary A N Radhakrishnan, who were staging protests in Nilakkal by chanting Ayyappa mantra, were taken into custody and are lodged at the local area police station.
Reiterating the agenda for their protests, Radhakrishnan claimed that thousands of Ayyappa devotees were ready to sacrifice their lives to protect the sanctity of the ‘poonakavanam’ (holy forest of Lord Ayyappa).
Meanwhile, a Travancore Devaswom Board member alleged that the chief priest of the temple along with the royal family, who is the traditional custodian of the temple, were trying to escalate the political agenda surrounding it.
Criticising the temple tantri’s (chief priest) remark that the shrine would be closed in case its traditional customs are broken, TDB member K P Sankaradas said the statement was in contempt of court and also against the custom of the temple.
Sankaradas also censured the 30 parikarmis (priests who assist the chief priest in the temple) for protesting on the pathinettampadhi (the 18 holy steps) against the police decision to escort two women who were trying to trek and enter the temple in the past two days. The TDB member said that the action of the priests had hurt Lord Ayyappa’s devotees’ sentiments and an explanation had been sought from them.
Police had also detained six BJP youth workers on Friday for the same reason of violating prohibitory orders in Nilakkal.