A day after reopening of Sabarimala temple, the rightwing Hindu outfits on Saturday called a down to dusk strike against the arrest of Hindu Aikya Vedi leader KP Sasikala. VHP president SJR Kumar alleged that Sasikala was arrested by police near Sabarimala at 2:30 am on Saturday.
“She was arrested as she was on the way to the hill shrine carrying 'irumudikkettu' (bundle carrying sacred offerings) to offer prayers. Some other activists have been taken into preventive custody,” Kumar said.
The VHP leader said that emergency services and vehicles of Lord Ayyappa devotees will not be affected by the strike. He also accused the Kerala government of trying to destroy the Sabarimala temple.
The famous Lord Ayappa shrine was reponed on Friday for a two-month long annual pilgrimage season. The shrine re-opened for the third time since the historic Supreme Court verdict allowing women of menstrual age into the temple. lakhs of devotees, including over 500 women of the previously banned age-group, have registered themselves to visit the temple.
However, the protesters openly defied the Supreme Court order and said that they will not allow women of menstruating age to enter the temple premise. On Friday, activist Trupti Desai, who arrived at the Cochin International Airport to pay a visit to the shrine, had to leave from the airport after protesters block the exit gates.
Speaking to reporters at the airport, Desai said that the cab drivers and hotel owners were threatened by the protesters of facing a law and order situation in case they provide her shelter. "It feels sad that the devotees of Lord Ayyappa are abusing and threatening us," the founder of Bhumata Brigade said.
"More than 500 women have done bookings to visit the Sabarimala Temple, I would appeal to the government to provide a security which can take women to the temple. Our fight is for equality. The Kerala police have requested us to go back. If we will stay here the violence can erupt. This was never our agenda," she added.