The Sabarimala Karma Samithi has called for hartal in Kerala on Thursday at the heels of entry of two women into the Lord Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala here on Wednesday. The hartal will be held from 6am to 6pm. On another note, the BJP will hold protests across Kerala for the next two days.
The announcement for the hartal comes hours after two women aged below 50 entered Sabarimala temple and offered their prayers. Lawyer Bindu and government employee Kanakadurga entered the temple at 4 am on Wednesday. A few hours later, the temple was shut for a ‘purification ritual at 10.30 am. Protests were seen across the state following this. This is the first time that women under the age of 50 have entered the shrine, after the September 2018 verdict of the Supreme Court allowing entry to women of all ages into Sabarimala.
A large number of protesters lined up outside Secretariat. While vehicles were reduced to rubble in Mala and Kodungalloor in Thrissur, BJP-RSS-Sabarimala Karma Samithi workers forced shops to shut in Kottarakara.
BJP workers waved black flags at Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran in Guruvayur where he had gone to attend a function.
Health minister K.K. Shylaja also had to face the rage of activists of the Yuva Morcha, the party’s youth wing at Kannur, who waved black flags, they said. The protestors were removed by the police.
BJP workers also took out a protest march in the state capital. In Kasaragod, they blocked traffic on the national highway. Media persons were attacked in several parts of the state. In Thiruvananthapuram, BJP cadre attacked media persons who were covering the issue.
Several members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha in Kerala staged protests against the two women outside the state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram. Five members were detained by the police, according to news agency ANI.
Kerala: Five BJP Mahila Morcha members protesting against two women entering #SabarimalaTemple today, stopped from entering the state secretariat by police in Thiruvananthapuram. pic.twitter.com/cUIfCkhVRv
— ANI (@ANI) January 2, 2019
However, whether the hartal will be a success remains to be see. The traders associations in the state have refused to back the hartal — in December, traders and businesspersons in Kerala had vowed to not observe any hartals and shutdowns in the state in 2019. In a meeting held in Kozhikode, the Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi (VVES), a Kerala-wide union of traders and merchants, decided not to observe reckless or unnecessary hartals called by political parties. At a press conference, they also announced that the union will observe 2019 as a hartal-opposed year.