BJP begins protest day, block roads against arrest of K Surendran
BJP workers in Kerala blocked highways on Sunday to protest the arrest of party general secretary Surendran, who was taken into custody on Saturday while on his way to the Lord Ayappa shrine
Thiruvananthapuram: BJP workers in Kerala blocked highways on Sunday to protest the arrest of party general secretary Surendran, who was taken into custody on Saturday while on his way to the Lord Ayappa shrine
The protestors, including women, squatted on roads, blocking traffic at various places, including in state capital, Kochi, Thrissur, Palakkad and in front of Kottarakara sub-jail, where Surendran has been lodged, and also the northernmost Kasaragod district. In all the places, the protesters were seen clapping and chanting "Swamiyae Ayyappa".
Addressing workers at Thiruvananthapuram, BJP leader M S Kumar said police had so far not succeeded in bringing even a single young woman to the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala after the Supreme Court on September 28 allowed women of all age groups to offer prayers at the shrine.
While the CPI(M)-led LDF government's stand is that they were constitutionally bound to implement the court order, the main opposition Congress has said they are with the believers.
The BJP, RSS and right-wing outfits have made it clear that they would not allow any woman in the 10-50 age group to offer prayers at the shrine, where the deity is "Naishtika Brahmachari" (perennial celibate). Surendran and two others with him had been taken into preventive custody Saturday night and brought to the Chittar police station, about 50 km from Sabarimala after they forcibly tried to leave for the hill shrine at Sabarimala. Police had cited law and order issues and tense situation at the temple complex to deter him from going to Sabarimala. However, when they insisted, Surendran and the others, all with the "Irrumudikettu" (bundle of offerings for Lord Ayyappa)were taken into preventive custody. They were then produced before the Thiruvlla magistrate, who remanded them to 14-days judicial custody. Surendran was later taken to the Kottarakara sub-jail.
The BJP protest comes a day after the hartal called by the Hindu Aikya Vedi against the preventive custody of their leader K P Sasikala. She was later granted bail. When the Ayyappa temple had opened for monthly pujas in October and early this month, it witnessed a string of protests from frenzied devotees against the entry of young women. A few of them, who made a bid to offer prayers, could not come anywhere close to the holy shrine.
A 46-year-old woman, who arrived from nearby Kazhakootam to go to Sabarimala, was turned back from Chengannur Saturday, following protests from devotees.