Kerala on edge as mobs take to streets over women's entry into Sabarimala temple
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala was in ferment on Thursday, a day after two women of menstruating age entered the Sabarimala temple, infuriating saffron outfits, with protesters blocking roads by placing burning tyres and granite blocks, and clashes leaving three BJP workers injured in a knife attack, officials said.
The dawn to dusk shutdown called by Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of various pro-Hindutva groups, and the Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP), plunged the state into turmoil, as hundreds of Hindu right-wing activists disrupted vehicular movement, and vandalised shops and offices of the ruling CPI(M).
The state was under siege as strike supporters clashed with police and the ruling CPI(M) activists at several places.
In Thrissur, three BJP activists were stabbed during a clash with workers of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political wing of Popular Front of India, a militant Islamic outfit, police said.
Most state-run buses kept off the roads after several of them were damaged in Wednesday's violence, while only a few autorickshaws plied in cities and towns.
A 55-year-old man, who was seriously injured when CPI (M) workers hurled stones at protesters from atop their party office at Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district, died late Wednesday night.
However, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told media that the man, Chandran Unnithan, died due to cardiac arrest.
Nine people accused of involvement in the attack have been identified and two of them arrested, police said.
As tempers ran high in Kerala, the Supreme Court Thursday refused to urgently hear a contempt petition moved by a lawyers' group against Sabarimala temple authorities for closing the shrine for purification after two women entered it.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul said that the contempt petition would be heard along with the pending review petitions against the apex court verdict which allowed women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple.
Advocate P V Dinesh appearing for Indian Young Lawyers Association told the bench that the temple authorities closed the shrine Wednesday for purification after the women's entry which violated the apex court verdict. Vijayan, who blamed the BJP-RSS combine for the violence, warned of stern action against the perpetrators.