Dawn-to-dusk shutdown called in Kerala after activist dies in Sabarimala clashes

Thiruvananthapuram: After the entry of two women into Sabarimala temple on Wednesday, Kerela witnessed widespread protests and a man who was injured in the clashes died late that night. An umbrella organisation of various right-wing groups has called for a dawn-to-dusk shutdown in the state today.

Violent protests broke out across the state as protesters blocked highways and forcefully closed shops and markets in various parts in Kerala. Journalists reporting from outside the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram were allegedly attacked by BJP workers and its youth wing activists.

Chandran Unnithan, 55 and a member of Sabarimala Karma Samithi, was injured in clashes between CPI(M) and BJP workers in Pandalam. He was injured on the head in stone-throwing allegedly from the CPI(M) office and died at a hospital. Police are investigating the man’s death.

Kerala’s top police officer Loknath Behara has warned of strict action against those indulging in violence during the shutdown. Various universities have postponed their exams scheduled for Thursday

Bindu and Kanakadurga, both ladies in their early 40s, entered the hilltop shrine around 3.45 am on Wednesday, becoming the first to do so since the Supreme Court’s order was given to end the a decades-old ban on women of menstrual age from entering the shrine. In a video shared by ANI on Twitter, the women were seen hurrying into the shrine, dressed in black and escorted by the police.

Soon after, the shrine was controversially shut down for an hour and a half for “purification”. Kerala minister EP Jayarajan called it contempt of court, saying: “untouchability is against the law.”

Announcing the 12-hour shutdown on behalf of the Sabarimala Karma Samiti Samiti, its leader KP Sasikala said the government has “betrayed” devotees. The organisation, which is spearheading protests against the Supreme Court’s September verdict allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the hill shrine, asked people to cooperate with them in their protest.

(With inputs from PTI)