Following a period of calmness in Pamba, Nilakkal and Sabarimala temple on Thursday, tension prevailed in these areas on Friday. After five members of the BJP Yuva Morcha were arrested on Thursday, seven more were arrested around 4.45 pm from Pamba under section 144 (unlawful assembly) on Friday.
Around 4 pm on Friday, an hour before the gates of the temple were to be opened for the second time in the day, seven men, dressed as devotees, arrived at the premises of the forest check post in upper Pamba and started singing praises to Lord Ayyappa.
This continued for about 15 minutes when a police officer walked up to them and said that such an assembly is prohibited in the area and asked them to disperse. Ignoring the order, the men continued with their praises to Lord Ayyappa. By this time, a good amount of devotees had joined these men and started singing praised along with them.
When the men refused to disperse, the police officials began to forcefully move them. At this moment, the men dressed as devotees revealed that they were members of the Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Even while being carried to the jeep, the seven men shouted slogans like "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and even against "Pinarayi's police".
It was found that the irumudikettu (cloth bags with items essential for pooja) that the men carried with them did not have any of the items that a devotee would carry to the temple.
The arrested members were taken to the Pamba police station.
The Sabarimala temple had turned into a battlefield on Wednesday when mobs started protesting the entry of women devotees. Some protestors stopped women devotees, while many attacked women journalist in Pamba and Nilakkal, who were there to cover the protest. In fact, the administration imposed Section 144 in Pamba, Nilakkal, Sannidhanam and Elavungal.
While it was relatively peaceful on the second day on Thursday, the situation turned grim again on Friday as two women trekked up to the temple to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple. However, they were stopped 500 metres away from the steps. Later, a 46-year-old woman, who wished to enter the temple, too, had to return amid growing protests and lack of police protection.