Updated: December 13, 2018 10:54:36 pm
A middle-aged man, who set himself on fire in front of a BJP protest venue in Thiruvananthapuram in the early hours of Thursday morning, has died, police confirmed.
Around 2 am on Thursday, Venugopalan Nair, 49, had poured petrol on his body, set himself ablaze and advanced towards a tent in which BJP leaders and workers were protesting the police restrictions imposed by the ruling LDF government on the premises of the Sabarimala temple.
The workers, along with locals, quickly doused Nair with water and admitted him to the Medical College hospital in Thiruvananthapuram with 90% burns. Nair, who was critical, passed away at 3:30 pm today.
BJP leaders and workers claimed that Nair shouted ‘Ayyappa, Ayyappa’ as he rushed towards the party’s protest venue. The police, however, have termed the incident as suicide and ruled out having any relation to the protest.
The principal deity at Sabarimala is Ayyappa. Ever since the Supreme Court passed a historic ruling throwing open doors of the temple to women of all ages, widespread protests, led chiefly by the BJP, RSS and the Congress, with a large number of Hindu men and women have broken out. Sections of the community feel that the SC verdict breaks temple traditions that bar women of menstruating age from the temple.
At the same time, a police official told the Indian Express that Nair’s family, including his two wives and children, had abandoned him recently. This could be why he took the extreme step, police indicated.
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