Pon Radhakrishnan, the Union minister of State for Finance and Shipping from Tamil Nadu is at Sabarimala, protested at the Sabarimala sannidhanam on Wednesday against the state governmentâ€™s prohibitory orders.
According to sources, the minister stayed at the Ayyappa Seva Samajam office at the sanndihanam for sometime in the night, after declining the government guest house.
On Wednesday morning, he had arrived in a government vehicle at the base camp on Nilakkal where he had an altercation with Superintendent of Police Yatish Chandra who told him that only the minister's car could be allowed and not the entourage of cars along with him. The SP and others officers told the minister that the private cars could not proceed to Sabarimala as there were restrictions in place and only government run KSRTC buses were allowed.
When Yatish Chandra came before him, the Minister asked him why private vehicles were not allowed towards Pamba. In videos of the altercation, the police officer can be heard saying, "Most of the parking spaces in Pamba have been destroyed during the floods and landslides. There are chances of landslide there, even now. So we cannot allow vehicles to be parked there."
When the minister asked why private vehicles were not being allowed and only KSRTC buses, Yatish Chandra replied that the buses were allowed there as they were not parked there and would return from Pamba after each trip.
"But KSRTC buses are not parked there. If we allow private vehicles to go and park there, traffic jams will be there. Are you willing to take responsibility for all of this?" the police officer then asks.
The minister then retorted that he could give no such guarantee. When Yatish Chandra said that no one willing to take responsibility was the problem, Kerala BJP leader AN Radhakrishnan who was accompanying the minister lost his cool. He shouted at the officer asking how dare he insult a minister.
â€śYou (police) are unnecessarily harassing devotees. Why only KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) vehicles are being allowed till Pamba? This is not good for Sabarimala pilgrims. Private vehicles should also be allowed,â€ť the minister could be heard saying.
â€śI came as a devotee. I am a regular here and am really upset about the restrictions. Why are you putting undue pressure on devotees?â€ť the minister asked.
Following this, Pon Radhakrishnan took a KSRTC bus upto Pamba from where he climbed up to Sabarimala and offered his prayers. At around 10:30 pm on Wednesday, the minister left for the temple from the Ayyappa seva office to participate in a Nama Japa protest, following which the shrine was closed for the night.
Although the minister stated that his reason for declining the state accommodation and vehicle was to visit the temple just like everybody who did not enjoy these facilities, he also made it clear that it was his way of marking his protest against the prohibitory orders imposed by the district administration.
The minister climbed down from the sannidhanam post 11 pm on the same day.