The Kerala police have filed cases against 1400 individuals for taking part in the state-wide Ayyappa Jyothi event on December 26, organised by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi and were backed by the BJP. Police in Angamaly, Perumbavoor, Muvattupuzha and Kuruppampady registered cases against unidentified persons who took part in the protest under sections 147 (rioting), 283 (danger or obstruction to public line of navigation) and 149 (unlawful assembly for common object).
BJP State General Secretary AN Radhakrishnan and district secretaries MA Brahmaraj and MN Gopi were among those named by police. The Angamaly police station reportedly registered cases against 500 unidentified persons, Perumbavoor police station against 300 unidentified individuals, Kuruppampady police station against 100 unidentified persons and Muvattupuzha police station against 500 unidentified persons.
“Those who took part in the event without permission from the police have been charged. This is a standard response to such events where roads are obstructed without prior permission,” Kochi range IG Vijay Sakhare told TNM. A Perumbavoor police station official also told TNM that it currently could not be known if all or a majority of those named in the chargesheets were members of the BJP.
When asked whether the BJP had obtained police permission to hold the demonstration, BJP State General Secretary K Surendran told TNM that he was not aware of why the police had named so many individuals, and that the party “had taken police permission for the event as a whole, but not in each specific district”.
The Ayyappa Jyothi event saw devotees light lamps and stand on public roads and highways for 30 minutes between 6 and 6.30 pm on December 6 to express their opposition to women’s entry to the Sabarimala temple. It was also in response to the Kerala government’s planned Women’s Wall event to be held on 1 January.