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States » South

Dawn-to-dusk hartal in Kerala over Sabarimala issue

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 2 (UN) Kerala BJP extended its support to the state-wide dawn-to-dusk hartal called by Sabarimala Karma Samiti on Thursday in protest against the entry of two young women at Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.
Soon after the entry of two women into the temple, violence incidents are being taken place across Kerala disrupting normal life.
In Thruvananthapuram, BJP and CPI(M) workers clashed each other forcing the police to use water canons and fire teargas shells to disperse the agitating partymen in front of the State Secretariat.
CPM workers led by former MLA and CITU leader V Sivankutty assembled in front of the Secretariat while BJP workers trooped under corporation members and party district president S Suresh.
BJP State Vice President Sivarajan felt uneasiness when a teargas shell busted infront of the venue where he is staging indefinite hunger strike.
Widespread protests broke out in the state after the two women entered the hill shrine early in this morning, which was later confirmed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The devotees of Lord Ayyappa held protest marches across the state. The protesters stage road blockade at several places and pelted stones at both KSRTC and private buses.
Protests turned violent at Palakkad, Vadakara and Guruvayoor and police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the protesters.
Stones pelted at KSRTC buses at Kozhencherry and Konni in Pathanamthitta, Koduvayur and Walayar in Palakkad, and Sasthamkotta in Kollam districts among other places.
Protesters also damaged Mavelikkara taluk office in Alappuzha.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran and Health Minister KK Shylaja were shown black flags by Yuva Morcha activists on Wednesday.
Two women devotees, below the age of 50, on Wednesday managed to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple, in a first after the September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowed entry of women of all ages into the hillock temple.
The women, identified as Ms Bindu from Koilandy and Ms Kanaga Durga from Angadippuram in Malappuram entered the temple accompanied by the police officials from Pamba to Sannidanam and ensured their Darshan at 0330 hrs.
Talking to news persons over phone after Darshan, Bindu said she and Kanaga Durga reached Pamba at 0100 hrs and sought the police protection for their trekking.
This is to be noted that the same two women were sent back on December 24 following amid protest from devotees.
They were stopped at Marakkuttam and sent back on that day following stiff protection from devotees of other States including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier, DGP Loknath Behra said the police tried their level best to implement the September-28 Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry for women of all ages into the hillock shrine.
After the breaking of centuries old customs in the temple, Kerala witnessed protests including demonstrations, pelting of stones on police personnel and forcing merchants to pull their shutters down.
Both police personnel and protestors were injured when the police resorted to lathicharge on the latter and the protestors pelted stones in retaliation on the former in Palakkad town.
The agitators tried to ransack the KSEB Inspection Bunglow, where Minister for Electricity A K Balan is attending an official meeting.
In Perintalmanna in Malappuram protestors forced merchants to close down their shops all along the routes they took out their protest marches. Similar incidents were reported from Tirur.
Tension prevailed in several parts of North Kerala since noon as protestors belonging to Sabarimala Karma Samithi and BJP keep surging in to participate in the protests.
Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday confirmed the entry of two women into Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala in the early hours on Wednesday.
Talking to newspersons here, the Chief Minister said the responsibility of the police is to ensure protection to women who wish to visit Sabarimala based on the September 28 Supreme Court verdict, allowing the entry for women of all ages into Lord Ayyappa temple.
"As there were no protests from devotees, the two women managed to enter the temple," the Chief Minister added.
State Culture Minister AK Balan, who welcomed the entry of the women into the temple, said there is nothing new in it as there were such things happened earlier also.
State Fisheries Minister Mercykutty Amma said the entry of women is a welcome step to ensure gender equality in all fields.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged the customs of Lord Ayyappa temple was violated with the full knowledge of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who hurt the religious sentiments of crores of people in the country.
The Congress-led UDF will stage state-wide protest marches and corner meetings this evening in protest against the Left Government's plan to destroy Sabarimala in the name of Apex Court order.
BJP State President PS Sreedharan Pillai alleged that Mr Vijayan has cheated believers all over the country and peoples' protest in this regard could cross the limit due to the Government's irresponsible attitude.
To a question on future course of action, Mr Pillai said the party will take a final decision after consulting with other organisations involved in the Sabarimala agitaion.
Congress leader K Sudhakaran said the Chief Minister committed a mistake to the believers and consequences in this regard will be unimaginable.
In many places in this afternoon, furious activists set on fire tyres on the highway, MC roads and several interior places.
Police arrested several agitators in connection with the state-wide violence incidents.
For the first time in the history of temple, world famous Lord Ayyappa temple was closed following the entry of two young women into the Santum Sanctorum this morning.
The temple was closed at 1030 hrs to conduct "Sudhi Kariya" and "Prayachitha Poojas" in the wake of breaking of centuries old customs and traditions restricting the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50.
After coming to know that the two young women entered the temple, Chief Priest Rajeevaru Kandararu and Headpriest VN Vasudevan Nampoothiri closed the temple after a discussion with the officials of Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB).
Following the closure, "Neyyabishekam" was stopped and efforts are going to hold "Bimba Sudhi" and other rituals, including "Prayachitha Poojas," sources told UNI.
Later, the temple was reopend at 1125 hrs after the Tantric rituals.
The Sabarimala Karma Samiti which is in the forefront of agitation against the entry of young women and the representatives of Pandalam Palace also came out against the Left Government alleging that police brought the women into the temple with the knowledge of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The Karma Samiti alleged that the CPI (M) Government was destroying the customs and traditions in the name of September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry for women of all ages into the temple.
UNI DS JA 2301
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