Sabarimala, November 19, 2018
Tension prevailed at Sabarimala hill shrine when hundreds of devotees were arrested for chanting devotional song “Ayyappa Saranam” here last night. A large number of devotees, who questioned the police restrictions on their religious rights, objected the police who also abused them, sources said.
When the police tried to arrest a devotee, who introduced himself as Rajesh from Ernakulam, a large number of devotees protested the police move. In protest against the police act, a large number of devotees also began a sit-in dharna at the ‘Valiya Nadapandal’, just 100 metres away from the temple. (See: Sabarimala)
Later, Rajesh told newspersons that four devotees were arrested by the police and was trying to arrest him, for questioning the police direction to refrain from chanting ‘Ayyappa Mantras’ at the temple.
The Ayyappa devotees were arrested from the temple by a police team led by SP Pratheesh Kumar, and have been sent to some unknown place in two buses, escorted by more than 10 police jeeps.
Protests at CM’s residence
Soon after the devotees were arrested at Sabarimala temple, hundreds of people thronged in to the streets in the wee hours to stage protest marches to ‘Cliff House,’ the official residence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, here today.(See: Ideological fight)
Police stopped hundreds of agitators at Devaswom Board Junction, a few metres away from the Cliff House, and deployed more policemen to deal the situation. Soon after the arrest, several police stations and Commissioner Offices across Kerala were blocked by the agitating devotees.
Tension prevailed at Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta, Kozhikode districts as agitators organised prayer meetings in several places at midnight.
Union Minister Alphons Kannamthanam coming to Pamba
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Tourism Alphons Kannamthanam will reach Pamba at 0900 hrs on Monday to proceed Sannidanam, the abode of Lord Ayyappa temple.
Talking to newspersons at Pathanamthitta, BJP Kerala President PS Sreedharan Pillai said the Union Minister will be accompanied by a few MLAs from outside Kerala.
Alleging that pilgrims are being denied basic facilities, he said the Union Minister will visit Pamba and other places to assess the ground reality in this regard. The Union Minister’s visit was in the wake of several arrests of Sangh Parivar leaders after the opening of the temple for the annual pilgrimage.
Challenging the Government to arrest the BJP leaders, coming to Lord Ayyappa temple, Pillai said the Saturday’s arrest of State General Secretary K Surendran was unnecessary.