Kerala

'Ayyappa Jyothi' volunteers line up with lamps lit on Kerala public roads

'Ayyappa Jyothi' campaign volunteers stage a protest in front of the State Secretariat, in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

'Ayyappa Jyothi' campaign volunteers stage a protest in front of the State Secretariat, in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: C. Ratheesh Kumar

The line-up of devotees stretched almost seamlessly from Manjeswaram in North Kerala to Kaliyakkavilai on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border in the South.

An amalgam of Hindu right-wing groups turned out in strength on Wednesday evening and lit lamps along public roads in Kerala to decry what they described as repeated attempts by the CPI(M)-led State government to escort women between the age of 10 and 50 to Sabarimala under the “pretext of upholding the Supreme Court order on September 28”.

The Sabarimala Karma Samithi (SKS), a recent construct of the Hindu Aikya Vedi, spearheaded the Ayyappa Jyothi campaign, which was widely viewed as a strong political counter to the “wall of women to protect enlightenment values” planned by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) on New Year’s Day.

The SKS marshalled thousands of Ayyappa devotees, a significant number of them women, who thronged roadsides with lighted lamps in what SKS leader K.P. Sasikala termed unprompted opposition to the brazen trespasses by the LDF government against the basic tenets of Ayyappa faith.

The line-up of devotees stretched almost seamlessly from Manjeswaram in North Kerala to Kaliyakkavilai on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border in the South.

A galaxy of politicians, celebrities and newsmakers also joined the campaign.

They included former State Police Chief T.P. Senkumar, Suresh Gopi, MP and yesteryear actors Menaka and Jalaja.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders P.S. Sreedharan Pillai, M.T. Ramesh and Shobha Surendran, led from the front.

Importantly, major social organisations in Kerala found themselves on the opposite sides of the campaign.

The Nair Service Society (NSS) strongly backed the Ayyappa Jyothi while the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam and the Kerala Pulayar Mahasabha appeared more inclined towards the LDF’s wall of women on January 1.

The State police had upped security in Kerala following intelligence reports that programme could spell communal trouble. However, the event passed peacefully.

The LDF had declared earlier that it would not resist the SKS event.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 10:14:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ayyappa-jyothi-volunteers-line-roads-with-lighted-lamps/article25834884.ece

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