Kerala CM Vijayan slams BJP and RSS for protests

India’s Supreme Court to hear, on November 13, petitions against Sabarimala verdict

Devotees pay obeisance at Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, Monday, October 22, 2018.

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would hear on November 13 multiple petitions challenging the Sabarimala verdict, in which the court allowed entry for women of all age groups into the shrine.

The ruling remained unimplemented following weeklong protests in Kerala.

A day after the doors to the temple closed — six days after they were opened for the first time since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on entry for women of menstruating age — Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the RSS of a “hidden conspiracy” to destroy peace at the temple.

At least 12 women in the 10-50 age group made a failed attempt to trek the hills and had to return following protests from believers.

Even women over the age of 50 were stopped at Sabarimala.

An apex court bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S.K. Kaul told lawyer Mathews J. Nedumpara that it has already passed an order with regard to listing of petitions on November 13.

“Sabarimala cases will be taken up on November 13 at 3pm. The order has been passed,” the CJI said when Mathews J. Nedumpara, representing the National Ayyappa Devotees Association again mentioned the plea against the verdict for urgent hearing.

A five-judge constitution bench in a 4-1 verdict last month lifted the centuries-old ban on entry of girls and women in the menstruating age of 10-to 50 years into the hilltop shrine.

The petition filed by Shylaja Vijayan, president, National Ayyappa Devotees Association through Nedumpara, submitted that faith cannot be judged by scientific or rationale reasons or logic.

Hitting out at the BJP and the RSS for the agitation at Sabarimala that stalled the entry of women in the hitherto banned 10-50 age group, Vijayan alleged there was a “hidden conspiracy” to destroy peace at the temple.

He alleged the agitations were a “planned and deliberate attempt” to create an atmosphere of tension in the state.

The CPM strongman also asserted that no force will be allowed to turn the shrine complex into a centre for troublemakers.

Talking to reporters, he alleged that the Sangh Parivar was attempting to “insult” and “mislead” believers.

While maintaining that the beliefs of devotees would be respected, Vijayan made it clear that the government had the responsibility to implement the apex court order.

Vijayan said both the main opposition Congress and BJP were “playing politics” on the Sabarimala issue since they had earlier welcomed the court verdict.

Some leaders of the Congress are joining hands with the RSS and it was a “dangerous trend,” he said.

Attempts are being made to destroy the peace and harmony at Sabarimala, he said, adding criminals will not be allowed to turn the temple complex into a trouble zone.

The government will restore the peace and harmony at Sabarimala and this will be through the cooperation of genuine devotees, Vijayan said.

Vijayan also made it clear it was the constitutional responsibility of the LDF government to implement the court order and said protection will be given to women who wish to offer prayers at the shrine.

The blocking of women and attack on media personnel, who had come to cover the historic event, was part of a conspiracy led by the RSS, he alleged.

The temple in Sabarimala had witnessed high drama and tense moments for six days when it was opened for monthly prayers from October 17 to 22.

Vijayan also criticised temple tantri (priest), Kandararu Rajeevaru, who said he would close the temple and leave if women were allowed inside the shrine. The CM also hit out at the agitation by the priest’s assistants who protested near the holy 18 steps.

A series of protests were witnessed across the state since the CPM-led LDF government decided to implement the verdict.

Reacting to Vijayan’s attack, BJP State President, P.S. Sreedharan Pillai blamed the “stubbornness” of the chief minister for the present situation at Sabarimala.

The government should rectify its mistakes and protect the convictions of devotees, Pillai said.

The massive support the devotees received across the state had left the ruling CPM and LDF in “jitters”, which was why they have started a campaign, including family meeting to explain the government’s stand on the issue, he added.

Pandalam Royal family member Sasi Kumar Varma said even though the government used all its machinery and tried to bring women, barred by tradition, to the shrine, they could not succeed.

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