Sabarmala Row: BJP leader sent to 14-day judicial custody, party workers protest
New Delhi :
Kerala Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary K Surendran, who was arrested by police while on his way to Sabarimala Temple, has been remanded to 14-day judicial custody by a magistrate court on Sunday. On Saturday night, the BJP leader was taken into “preventive custody” when he was heading towards the hill-top shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala. He was asked not to proceed towards the Sabarimala Temple by Superintendent of Police Yatish Chandra. The BJP leader, however, didn’t pay heed and taken into custody along with others and brought to Chittar Police Station.
Earlier in the day, the police took him to Pathanamthitta district hospital for a medical checkup and then produced before the Pathanamthitta magistrate at his residence. The magistrate granted police 14-day custody of Surendran, who was charged with non-bailable offences under section 353 and 34 of the Indian Penal code.
Following the arrest of the BJP leader, party workers had gathered outside the Chittar Police Station. BJP workers had also held protests in front of the state secretariat at Thiruvananthapuram. The saffron party announced a “protest” day Sunday.
Kerala had observed a dawn to dusk ‘hartal’ against the arrest of Hindu Aikya Vedi president PK Sasikala on Saturday. She was also arrested as she tried to proceed to the Lord Ayappa Temple at Sabarimala.
The famous Sabarimala Temple had opened for the two-month long pilgrim season on November 16. It was the third time the temple opened after the Supreme Court verdict allowing entry of women of the menstrual age.
Several right-wing groups, including the BJP, has been openly defying the Supreme Court order to allow entry of the women of all ages, citing centuries-old traditions.
46-year-old woman en route to Sabarimala sent back
Meanwhile, a 46-year-old woman, who was heading towards the Lord Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala, was sent back by protesters. The woman had also made a similar attempt to visit the temple when it was opened last month.
Mary Sweety, a resident of Kazhakootam in Thiruvananthapuram, was onboard a Kerala roadways bus when police stopped her. Soon the protesters, who called themselves Ayyappa devotees, gathered in front of the bus and asked her to leave.
So far, no woman of the earlier banned age group had been allowed to visit the Sabarimala Temple. Lakhs of devotees, including over 500 women of the previously banned age-group, have registered themselves to visit the temple during the two-month long pilgrim season.