Sabarimala issue live updates | Another young woman worships at Sabarimala

The BJP is supporting the shutdown, while the Cong.-led UDF is observing a “black day” in protest against the entry of two young women into the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

January 03, 2019 09:42 am | Updated February 06, 2019 05:37 pm IST

Smashed glass of a vehicle of Thanaveedu Charitable Trust that came under attack near the BJP district office in Kannur on Thursday.

Smashed glass of a vehicle of Thanaveedu Charitable Trust that came under attack near the BJP district office in Kannur on Thursday.

A dawn to dusk hartal was observed in Kerala on Thursday in protest against the entry of two women of menstruating age into the temple of Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala in the early hours of Wednesday.

The hartal has been called by Sabarimala Karma Samithi (SKS), an umbrella organisation of various Hindu outfits which is spearheading protests against the Supreme Court’s September 28 verdict, and the Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP).

The BJP is supporting the shutdown while the Congress-led UDF is observing a “black day”. - PTI

Here are the latest updates:

11:40 pm

46-year-old Sri Lankan woman, climbs 18 steps, worships at Sabarimala

The Kerala police confirmed that a 46-year-old Sri Lankan woman offered prayers at the sanctum in Sabarimala temple on late Thursday.

The Police identified the woman as Sasikala, daughter of Asok Kumaran, who holds a Sri Lankan passport. Her passport gave her date of birth as December 3, 1972. 

Officers said Ms. Sasikala had walked up the “18 Holy Steps” without any hindrance and offered her prayers at the sanctum. They said her relatives accompanied her. “She finished her darshan at around 9.30 p.m. and reached Pampa safely by 11 p.m," sources told The Hindu.


 BJP seeks probe into women’s temple entry

BJP State president P. S. Sreedharan Pillai on Thursday demanded a judicial investigation into the incident where two women in their forties, breaching a ritualistic ban, entered the Sabarimala temple.

Complaints have arisen regarding the manner in which the women were escorted to the temple, Mr. Pillai said.

V.Muralidharan, MP, has urged Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to engage the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for probing the alleged Maoist links of the two women who had darshan at Sabarimala on Wednesday morning.


Police find non-locals behind standoffs

Three hours into the hartal on Thursday, the Vadakkekkara police picked up a BJP activist who threatened to block vehicles.

They recorded his arrest and slapped him with IPC Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty). It was the third such case registered against the accused, hailing from Kottayam, at Vadakkekkara police station since the BJP hartal in connection with the Sabarimala row on December 14. “He is a constant troublemaker who turns up here for protests,” said the police.

Five of the accused who were arrested in an incident involving assault on a woman Special Branch police officer on Wednesday were found to be from Kodungalloor.

“This helps them evade preventive detentions in their respective places and makes it easier to create trouble and scoot from places where they are delegated,” a senior officer with the Kochi City Police told The Hindu .

6:50 p.m.

Kerala Governor Justice (Retd.) Sadasivam has sought a law and order report from Kerala Chief Minister Office following the incidents of violence and  destruction of private & public property.

A tweet from the Governor's Office appealed all the sections of people to maintain calm and peace.

5.30 p.m.


G. Anand reports from Thiruvananthapuram:

Congress leader Chennithala throws in his lot with Sabarimala Tantri

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala threw in his lot with the Tantri of the Sabarimala temple who had come under sharp criticism from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for closing the shrine for purification rituals following the controversial entry of two women to the sanctum early on Wednesday.

Mr. Chennithala told reporters that the Chief Minister had no business interfering in matters of faith. The Tantri was the final arbitrator in religious rituals in Sabarimala, he said. 

4.00 p.m.

CPI(M), BJP cadres clash at Nedumangadu

Persons suspected to be Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers vandalised the houses of municipal councillors owing allegiance to the BJP in the Nedumangadu Municipality in Thiruvananthapuram district on Thursday afternoon, according to police.

2.00 p.m .

K.S. Sudhi reports from Kochi:

CM creating favourable atmosphere for sangh parivar, says UDF convener

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has created an atmosphere conducive for the RSS, the BJP and sangh parivar outfits to implement their communal agenda in the State, said UDF convener Benny Behannan.

The government and the Chief Minister should apologise to the women in the State for misleading them to participate in the human wall programme on January 1. A few hours after the programme, two women offered their prayers at Sabarimala and many participants of the human wall programme came out against the act. The very foundation of the wall crumbled after hours of the event, Mr. Behannan told journalists.

"The Kerala government sponsored the two women devotees who offered their prayers at Sabarimala in the early hours of Wednesday. They came camouflaged and under the cover of darkness and the police gave them protestion. The Chief Minster declared a war on the faith of millions of people through his act," he said.

"The UDF organised a black day protest on Wednesday against the violence unleashed by the BJP, CPI (M) and police in the State. The CPI (M) gave a fresh lease of life for the dying agitation of the BJP, through the act," he alleged.

"The arrogance of the Chief Minister and the inept handling of the Sabarimala issue by the government gave the BJP a breathing space. The government action came at a time when the BJP protest was losing steam. The BJP protest at the government secretariat hardly attracted any attention," he said.

District Congress Committee president T. J. Vinod was also present.

1.40 p.m .

G. Anand reports from Thiruvananthapuram:

BJP workers stabbed in Thrissur, police suspect SDPI involvement

The hartal threatened to assume a communal colour in Thrissur district . 

The police were on the edge after persons, suspected to be workers of the Social Democratic Party of India, a predominantly minority community organisation, stabbed three BJP workers who were attempting to close a hotel run by a community member in Vadanapally.

The police tentatively identified the injured as Sreejith, Sujith and Ratheesh, all residents. They have been admitted to hospital and are out of danger. The youth had accosted the hotel owner in the morning and asked him to down the shutters. However, they got enraged when they found the hotel open for business on their return.

The police said the hartal had caused widespread tension between communities in Kerala. The stand-off was evident in marketplaces where BJP workers attempted to prevent traders, many of them minority community members, from selling meat, hawking and fish and retailing vegetables.  Officers had to intervene to defuse stand-offs between traders and hartal supporters in Kollam, Kozhikode and Kannur. 

The police said they had braced themselves for tit-for-tat violence after SKS activists targeted offices of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). BJP workers vandalised the party’s district committee office in Palakkad and destroyed CPI(M) symbols, flags, hoardings and billboards in Thiruvananthapuram.

Strike supporters attacked the CPI(M)’s area committee office at Alangadu in Kochi and burned down the party’s newly inaugurated office at Thanavaoor in Malappuram. BJP activists also attacked a CPI(M)-run library at Vennakkara in Palakkad. 

 BJP workers attacked the CPI(M)'s office at Adoor in Pathanamthitta.

At least 31 police officers were injured in skirmishes with BJP workers in Thiruvananthapuram, Kannur, Pandalam, Kozhikode and Palakkad. In Payyoli in Kozhikode, a police driver, Shanoj, was injured in hurling of stones by SKS activists. 

In Kasargode, which witnessed CPI(M)-BJP violence in the past days, persons suspected to be CPI(M) activists attacked the BJP office at Neeleswaram. 

Hartal supporters damaged public transport buses in Kannur, Pathanamthitta, Thrissur and Palakkad.

1.20 pm

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor reports from Pandalam:

Two held for death of BJP worker in Pandalam

The police have taken two persons into custody in connection with the death of a BJP worker in pelting of stones at Pandalam on Wednesday evening.

The two, Kannan and Aju, are said to be CPI(M) workers.

BJP worker Chandran Unnithan, 55, was killed and 10 others injured, three of them seriously, when a group of miscreants pelted stones at a protest march staged by the SKS workers in the palace town of Pandalam on Wednesday evening.

According to the police, the miscreants also hurled bricks and concrete blocks at the protest march from the rooftop of the building that housed the CPI(M) office in the town.

Mr. Chandran and three others suffered serious head injuries and were rushed to a private hospital in Pandalam. They were later shifted to a private medical college in Thiruvalla. The death occurred at the hospital, police said.

A civil police officer, Rajesh, too sustained head injury in the incident.

The SKS workers, including women and children, were taking out a march from the Manikantan Althara junction to the town via the KSRTC bus station in the evening.

12.40 pm

Sarath Babu George reports from Thiruvanathapuram:

Two cameramen manhandled

The State capital remained on tenterhooks as the hartal progressed amidst violent incidents. Tension continued to prevail near the Secretariat, which witnessed several rounds of violent demonstrations a day ago.

Two cameramen were manhandled by sangh parivar activists while they were recording hartal supporters forcibly closing down shops near Pazhavangady. A few journalists had come under attack while covering the demonstrations that unfolded outside the Secretariat on Wednesday. A repeat of the incident sparked outrage among the media fraternity, prompting journalists to call off their coverage of the BJP agitation.

Inadequate security arrangements affects traders

Despite assurances made by the police to them, inadequate security arrangements made the commercial establishments down the shutters. While a group of traders congregated in the Chalai Bazaar to commence business, the presence of only a handful of police personnel foiled their plans. The city police had deployed additional force to the area a short while ago.

Stones were hurled at a convoy that accompanied a bus transporting employees to Technopark when they were passing by the 16th Mile, near Thonnakkal. Incidents of private vehicles being obstructed were reported in a few places, including Pazhavangady. 

Several long-distance commuters faced great hardships owing to the lack of public transportation. The KSRTC decided against operating services after several of their buses came under attack in many places, including Neyyattinkara, Parassala and Balaramapuram last night.

One dies in railway station

Pathumma (64), who hailed from Wayanad, died after collapsing at the Thiruvananthapuram Central railway station. She came to the city for an appointment at the Regional Cancer Centre.

Several party offices of the CPI(M) in various places, including Nedumangad, Vattiyurkavu and Kaniyapuram, came under attack allegedly by sangh parivar activists.

12.35 pm

M.P. Praveen reports from Kochi:

Police, protesters face-off in Kaloor

Tension prevailed at Kaloor, a downtown region in Kochi, after a protest march  taken out by sangh parivar outfits was stopped by a huge police posse. 

The police wanted the protesting activists to disburse at Kaloor till where the march was allowed. However, they declined to end the march there and wanted to proceed further. The police refused to allow that, leading to some heated exchanges at the end of which the protesters obliged.

Meanwhile, the shops at Kaloor which were open in the morning, downed the shutters by afternoon.

12.30 p.m.

Hiran Unnikrishnan reports from Kottayam:

Uneasy calm in Kottayam

An uneasy calm prevailed in and around Kottayam as the day-long protest threw life out of gear, with the public transport, private buses and autorickshaws, staying off the road. The KSRTC has cancelled all its schedules, including the Sabarimala specials, while vehicles of Sabarimala pilgrims are also staying off the road, fearing violence.

The inter-State pilgrims to Sabarimala, who have reached Kottayam on board trains, have been put to immense hardship in the absence of vehicles for their onward journey. Further, all commercial establishments, including restaurants, have remained closed since the morning, adding to their hardship.

A tense situation prevailed in Kottayam town as protesters converged on the streets. However, no major cases of violence have been reported so far.

Unlike on previous occasions, the hartal is having a near total impact on the Erumeli town, which is generally exempted from such protests during the annual pilgrim season at Sabarimala. While the KSRTC operated a few services to Sabarimala in the morning, the shops operating in the temple town here were forced to close down in the face of protests.

A huge posse of policemen have been deployed at various locations, including Erumeli, to check any outbreak of violence.

12.10 p.m.

If Tantri cannot implement SC order, he should resign: CM


The government sticks by its stance that it will provide protection to any woman devotee who wants to visist Sabarimala, the Chief Minister said. If the temple Tantri is not able to implement the Supreme Court order, he should resign from the position, Mr. Vijayan observed at a press conference.

He said the hartal had been largely peaceful, barring a few stray incidents of violence. Police protection would be provided to the traders who wanted to keep their shops open. He praised traders who chose to do that.  He also hailed the 'women's wall' as a massive success and asserted that it had sent out a strong message on gender equality.

The violence and protests against the entry of women in Sabarimala were not spontaneous but being perpetrated by the sangh parivar, he alleged.

Briefing reporters after a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Vijayan said that neither he nor the government was aware of the women's darshan plans and learnt of it later from the media. He also reiterated the government's constitutional obligation to offer protection to all pilgrims, including women, to have darshan at Sabarimala. The Tantri and the Travancore Devaswom Board were parties to the case. The Tantri's decision to conduct purification rituals after the women's entry went against the verdict. He was free to profess his disagreement to the verdict, but was bound to implement it. If unwilling, the Tantri should quit, he said.

12.00 p.m.

I am neutral over this issue: Pejawar Mutt seer

Vishwesha Tirtha Swami of Pejawar Mutt has said that his stand on the issue of women’s entry into Sabarimala temple was neutral and the ‘shastras’ per se do not ban it.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone, he said, “In Sabarimala, there is no entry for women in the temple. But women are given entry in other temples [in the country]. However, there is nothing in the ‘shastras’ that bars or restricts the entry of women into temples. So I do not know what I should say about this Sabarimala issue. Hence, I am neutral over this issue.” He said women had been entering temples for so many centuries, and “earlier Dalits were not being allowed into temples in the name of tradition. But, this tradition has long been broken with the entry of Dalits into temples”.

11.50 a.m.

Manoj E.M. reports from Kalpetta:

Hartal near total in Wayanad

Barring stray incidents of minor violence, the hartal was by and large peaceful in Wayanad district. Hartal supporters hurled stones at a Kerala State Transport Corporation bus at Sulthan Bathery and attacked a shop at Pulpally.

Attendance was low in government offices and financial institutions. Educational institutions, business establishments, and shops, except medical shops, remained closed.

The hartal supporters were seen trying to obstruct vehicles on the Kerala -Karnataka and Kerala-Tamil Nadu State borders, including Tholpetty, Muthanga and Thaloor, police sources said.

While private buses and four wheelers including taxis, stayed off roads, the Kerala SRTC operated three services from Kozhikode to Sulthan Bathery in the morning with the help of police convoy.

11.30 a.m.

Mithosh Joseph reports from Kozhikode:

Hartal hits life in Kozhikode, one injured

Five suspected SKS workers were arrested for forcibly closing shops on the S.M. Street in Kozhikode district. Police fired tear gas shells to disperse the activists who locked horn with traders and tried to vandalise the shops.

The attempt of traders to keep their shops open in an attempt to resist the hartal call did not succeed. The glass door of a hotel that was kept open at Omassery was destroyed in heavy pelting of stones. Police said protection would be offered to all traders who wanted to carry out the trade as usual.

Tension prevailed in the area as a group of DYFI activists staged a demonstration on the street, expressing solidarity with the traders and their move to open the shops.

Activists of the SKS and various Sangh Parivar outfits blocked National and State highways in various parts of Kozhikode district.

In many of the rural areas, the hartal supporters blocked the roads using abandoned tyres and wooden pieces. At Thiruvambadi, a madrasa teacher who did not notice the blocked road with waste materials during his bike ride fell on the road and sustained serious injuries. The man was found unconscious on the road and was later admitted to a private hospital in the city.

To facilitate uninterrupted travel, the police used their patrol vehicles to clear many of the city roads. Some of the BJP activists who were suspected of blocking the roads also were taken into custody.

11.20 a.m.

K.S. Sudhi reports from Kochi:

Hartal hits public life in Kochi

Life was partially crippled in Kochi but private vehicles were seen plying on the National Highway stretch that runs through the city as well as the interior roads, though vehicles of the public transport system kept off the road. Though a few shopowners, who defied the hartal call, opened their shops in some parts of the city during the morning hours, they had to down the shutters after the BJP activists forced them to do so.

Ernakulam District Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla visiting Broadway, a busy market area in Ernakulam, on the hartal day.

Ernakulam District Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla visiting Broadway, a busy market area in Ernakulam, on the hartal day.


Some of the shops remained open in the Broadway and no untoward incidents were reported, police said.

BJP activists took out protest marches in different parts of the district. Marches were taken out from the High Court junction to Kaloor in the morning. Party workers also organised rallies at Kumbalam, Panangad and eastern parts of the district. However, no law and order issue was reported from the district, police said.

Hartal supporters block a road in Kaloor, Kochi

Hartal supporters block a road in Kaloor, Kochi


The Varappuzha police arrested five persons for blocking the road and registered a case invoking nonbailable charges against more identifiable men who burnt tyres on the road before fleeing the scene.

Two persons were taken into custody for trying to block road by burning tyres near the Aluva KSRTC garage. Three others, including a BJP office-bearer, were arrested on Wednesday night in connection with assaulting a woman special branch officer on duty at Vadakkekkara.

The Vypeen-Fort Kochi Roll On and Roll Off service of the Kochi Corporation operated as usual.

Congress workers too took out a protest march from the District Congress Committee office to Menaka junction.

11.10 a.m.

Karnataka Bureau reports:

Karnataka SRTC stops 80 services

The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation has cancelled 80 trips to Kerala due to the hartal.

Airavata Club Class bus operated by Mangaluru Division with broken windows following stone-pelting

Airavata Club Class bus operated by Mangaluru Division with broken windows following stone-pelting


The Mangaluru division has cancelled 40 trips to various destinations in Kerala after incidents of pelting of stones at KSRTC  buses were reported in Kasaragod. The Mysuru Rural and Puttur divisions cancelled 33 trips.  Two trips each from Bengaluru Central, Hassan and Chikkamagaluru were also stopped.

10.50 a.m .

Our Legal Correspondent Krishnadas Rajagopal reports from New Delhi:

No early SC hearing on contempt plea against Tantri

The Supreme Court has declined an early hearing on the contempt petition filed against Sabarimala temple Tantri for performing the purification process after 2 women entered the temple.

"We have kept the date as January 22," said the Chief Justice of India. "We have arranged our schedules for that, so we will hear it then," he said.

10.30 a.m .

Mohammed Nazeer reports from Kannur:

Hartal near total in Kannur

The hartal is near total in Kannur, paralysing life. Isolated incidents of attacks by hartal supporters have been reported from different parts of the district. Shops and commercial establishments remained closed and public transport vehicles, including KSRTC buses, were off the roads. Police vehicles were used to help stranded passengers at the Kannur railway station.

Pink police vehicle helping stranded passengers at the Kannur railway station

Pink police vehicle helping stranded passengers at the Kannur railway station


A vehicle of Thanalveedu Charitable Trust was attacked at Thalikkavu near the district office of the BJP at 10 a.m. The vehicle was on its way to take a staff of the trust at Mele Chovva. The vehicle was completely damaged. A staff of the trust, who was in the vehicle when the attack took place, said that the hartal supporters deflated tyres and smashed glasses. They also took away the ignition key of the vehicle and mobile phones.

Two goods autorickshaws of the Chirakkal panchayat were also damaged by hartal supporters late last night. A restaurant near the railway station also came under attack.

10.00 a.m .

S. Anil Radhakrishnan reports from Thiruvananthapuram:

KSRTC yet to commence services

Hundreds who depend on the KSRTC buses had been hit as the State transport undertaking is not able to operate services due to the hartal.

Though the police had announced escort if services are operated, the KSRTC is keeping fingers crossed as 80-odd buses have been damaged across the State on Wednesday in the violence following the entry of two women into the Sabarimala temple.

The services were suspended from 10 p.m. last night. No service has operated from the central bus station of the KSRTC in Thiruvanthapuram. However, chain services of KSRTC is plying in Nilackal-Pampa-Nilackal corridor to the much relief of Sabarimala devotees.

A luxury bus of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation was damaged in pelting of stones near the CRPF camp at Pallipuram along NH 66 in the morning. No one was injured in the incident. The bus was on its way from Mysuru to the State capital.

The bus of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation that was damaged in stone pelting near CRPF camp at Pallipuram in Thiruvananthapuram

The bus of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation that was damaged in stone pelting near CRPF camp at Pallipuram in Thiruvananthapuram


No other incident of attack on stage carriers had been reported in the first three hours of the hartal.

9.30 a.m .


In Malappuram , A CPI(M) branch committee office was set on fire, allegedly by sangh parivar activists at Tavanur as the hartal evoked sharp response across the district.

Public transport vehicles are keeping off the road, but autorickshaws, cars and bikes are plying.

Police arrested two BJP workers for blocking the road at Manjeri. Although traders said they would function as usual, their shops are yet to open.

9.00 a.m.

Protests erupt

As the news spread of the entry of two women into the Sabarimala temple spread like wildfire, protests erupted at several places, with Hindu right-wing activists blocking highways and forcing closure of shops and markets.

BJP and CPI(M) workers clashed in front of the Secretariat for over five hours on Wednesday as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse them.

A 55-year-old man, who was seriously injured in stone throwing at Pandalam, died late Wednesday night.

Merchants’ organisations had said they would not cooperate with the hartal and keep shops and business establishments open.

DGP Loknath Behara has warned of strict action against those indulging in violence during the hartal.

Various universities, including Kerala, Mahatma Gandhi, Calicut and Kannur have postponed their examinations scheduled for Thursday. - PTI

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