Kerala

BJP Statewide dawn-to-dusk hartal today

To pay homage to ‘Ayyappa devotee’ who immolated himself in capital

The BJP has called for a Statewide dawn-to-dusk hartal on Friday “to pay homage” to the 50-year-old “Ayyappa devotee” Venugopalan Nair who sustained fatal third-degree burns after he attempted to immolate himself in front of the Secretariat early Thursday. He died at a government hospital later.

A resident of Muttada in Thiruvananthapuram, Nair doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire around 1.30 a.m. in front of the makeshift shed where former BJP State president C.K. Padmanabhan is on hunger strike on the Sabarimala issue.

In a press release here on Thursday, the BJP said Venugopalan Nair, an ardent Ayyappa devotee, was deeply hurt by the Pinarayi Vijayan government’s trespasses on the age-old traditions of Sabarimala and committed suicide in despair.

The police said surveillance camera footage showed Nair in front of Capital Towers with a bottle in his hand. “He suddenly doused himself with the contents of the bottle and set himself on fire,” an officer said.

The footage showed Nair engulfed in flames. He rushed in distress towards the makeshift pavement shed where BJP workers attempted in vain to pat down the fire. Some tried to extinguish the blaze with bottled drinking water. Emergency services rushed Nair to Government Medical College Hospital here where was admitted to the burns ward.

Dying declaration

The Judicial First Class Magistrate, Thiruvananthapuram-II, recorded his dying declaration at the hospital in the presence of doctors. The police said Nair told the magistrate that he had lost the will to live. Investigators visited Nair’s house in Muttada and talked to his mother and two brothers. They said Nair was twice divorced and had a severe drinking problem. He was inebriated when he proceeded from his house to Statue Junction. The police have registered a case of unnatural death in connection with the incident.

The BJP and Sangh Parivar organisations have locked horns with the government over the Supreme Court order on September 28 allowing women between the age of 10 and 50 to worship at the Sabarimala shrine.

Suicide prevention helpline: Disha, phone 1056, 0471-2552056

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:33:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/bjp-calls-statewide-dawn-to-dusk-hartal-today/article25734324.ece

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