Sabarimala: Kerala Police takes BJP leader K Surendran into preventive custody, devotees protest at Nilakkal base camp

Ayyappa devotees allege that police are escorting activists to the shrine but preventing devotees from visiting it

The Kerala government in its bid to scuttle protests at Sabarimala has taken Kerala BJP general secretary K Surendran into “preventive custody” and has been forcefully removed from Nilakkal base camp on Saturday night.

According to the reports,  K Surendran was carrying Irumudikettu (bundle containing offerings for the Lord), when Kerala police stopped him from moving ahead to reach the Sabarimala shrine. Yatish Chandra, Superintendent of Police forcefully removed K Surendran from the site claiming that his presence will create law and order problems.

Surendran told the police he should be allowed to enter the shrine, as he has come here as an “Ayyappa Bhakta”. The Kerala police took him under “preventive custody” along with three other devotees present at the base camp. The arrest of K Surendran comes after Hindu Aikya Vedi state president P Sasikala was also detained by the police at Marakootam.

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“Preventing a genuine devotee with Irumudikettu is a challenge to Sabarimala pilgrims. Police are willing to escort activists to the temple, but they are preventing pilgrims,’’ Sasikala said. The activist was later released on bail and allowed to proceed to the temple.

Following the arrest of Sasikala, a statewide hartal was called to protest against her “preventive detention”. The strike called by various Hindu organisations and devotees had left thousands of people stranded across the state.

The massive protest at Sabarimala by Hindu devotees comes as a result of devotees accusing that the Kerala police are trying to stop “genuine devotees” but allowing activists and women to enter the Sabarimala shrine, even escorting them. Controversial activist Trupti Desai had come to Kochi to visit the Sabarimala shrine but had to return facing massive protest against her.

After she failed to even leave the airport due to protests, Trupti Desai had announced that she will visit the Sabarimala temple “unannounced” in the future using “Guerilla tactics”. Trupti Desai had to return back to Pune after she failed to proceed to the shrine which was opened for the third time after the Supreme Court’s controversial order to allow women of all ages.

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