Blame game begins as violence escalates in Sabarimala

Blame game begins as violence escalates in Sabarimala
Minister Kadakampalli Surendran asked if Sreedharan Pillai was trying to turn Sabarimala into a battleground. File

Thiruvananthapuram: Here is a clear sign that both the state government and the BJP have felt no remorse for the deteriorating law and order situation in Sabarimala. Each one has blamed the other, and has steered clear of wanting to take any responsibility.

BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai was the first to hurl the charge that the CPM was engineering the violence at Sabarimala. Speaking to reporters here, he alleged that many young recruits in the Kerala Armed Police battallion who were rushed to Sabarimala had been recruited hastily and illegally. He said that 300 candidates were recruited to the KAP violating all established norms. “They are all DYFI members. This was a charge raised by other political parties, too,” Pillai said. He said the police lathicharge on October 17, the first day of the opening of the Sabarimala shrine, was uncalled for. “Why did the police unleash a lathicharge on devotees who were staging a peaceful namajapa protest? What right had the police to take action against devotees. And yesterday, they had not yet clamped a curfew,” Pillai said.

He also saw a communal angle in the police attack. “The police officer in charge is not even a Hindu,” he said. (The BJP leader must have been referring to IG Manoj Abraham, who is coordinating the police action in Sabarimala.) “Television channels had shown visuals of policemen throwing out the pictures of Ayyappa Swami,” he said. Pillai said that there was a conspiracy to destroy Sabarimala. “The attack on journalists were part of this,” he said.

Read: WhatsApp messages instigating violence at Nilakkal? DGP directs to register case

He also branded Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran as the biggest provocateur. “The minister has stationed himself at Sannidhanam and did something that was unheard of. He conducted a review meeting at the Sannidhanam. No minister before him had done it. Moreover, the review was the mandate of the Devaswom Board and not the minister,” Pillai said.

Soon enough, the devaswom minister came up with a counter. His was a more specific attack, though unsubstantiated. The minister produced an audio clip of a supposed Sangh Parivar local chief exhorting his cadres to stealthily move to Sabarimala.

Speaking to media, the minister described the voice message “a call to violence”. The voice message, delivered by a supposed Sangh Parivar local functionary called Giji, instructs followers not to go to Sabarimala in groups or without 'irumudikettu' as curfew was clamped in the area. He wanted them to go individually or in groups of two, and said that they should wear black and have at least one garland around their neck. Once at Nilakkal, Giji tells them to call 940016516 to get further instructions. (Onmanorama tried calling the number but it was switched off.)

“Sreedharan Pillai, what is your plan at Sabarimala? What is the politics behind this. Are you trying to turn Sabarimala into a battleground,” the minister asked. He then asked Pillai to show some “political manliness”. “You should have the spine to admit that it was the RSS that brought the Sabarimala case to such a pass. Aren't the women who filed the petition in the Supreme Court – Prerana Kumari, Bhaktha Praseeda Seethi, and Lakshmi Sastri – known RSS workers of North India? Why do you hide this fact,” he said.

The minister also said that the review meeting held at Sannidhanam on October 17 was not the first such meeting ever convened by a minister. “Pillai is trying to mislead,” he said. “The decision to conduct a review meeting on the day before the opening of the temple for monthly pujas this month was taken in the first week of September, days before the Sabarimala verdict was delivered,” the minster said. He said the review meeting held last year at Sannidhanam was attended by the chief minister himself.

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