Temples conducting Navratri celebrations, male pilgrims travelling to Sabarimala and essential services in the state will not be affected by the hartal.

Hindu group announces 24-hour hartal in Kerala against womens entry into Sabarimala
news Sabarimala protests Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - 15:42

After Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s speech on Wednesday reiterating the government’s stance that it will not oppose the SC verdict allowing women entry into the Sabarimala temple, a Hindu group named Sabarimala Samrakshana Samithi has called for a 24-hour long state-wide hartal on Thursday in Kerala.

Temples conducting Navratri celebrations, male pilgrims travelling to Sabarimala and essential services in the state like milk delivery services, newspaper delivery services and hospitals services will be exempt from the hartal and are not expected to be affected.

Taking objection to the Chief Minister’s assertion that the government will provide protection to women devotees attempting to enter the temple, the Samithi called for the state-wide strike and asserted that true devotees of the god Ayyappa will oppose the SC’s verdict.

Sabarimala Samrakshana Samithi general convenor Pratheesh Viswanath, a lawyer and member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, posted on Facebook on Wednesday announcing the hartal. His post encouraged Ayyappa devotees to gather at Nilakkal and prepare to stay there for at least five days, in order to stop women devotees. The “nada” or doors to the Sabarimala are open for five days, beginning on Wednesday.

The post also said, “True devotees will be willing to take the law into their own hands for the sake of Lord Ayyappa”, and that “all devotees must burn effigies of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan”. The post also said that the Chief Minister would apparently be responsible for “all events that transpire henceforth,” hinting that he would be responsible for “any violence that breaks out as a result of protesters opposing the Supreme Court’s verdict.

On Wednesday, areas around the Sabarimala temple anti-women protesters chanted slogans and blocked women devotees in Pathanamthitta district, especially in Nilakkal and Pamba, the routes to reach the temple. Several women devotees, who were stopped at many areas, had to return after being blocked.

The News Minute’s reporter Saritha S Balan was attacked by anti-women Sabarimala protesters in Pamba.  Saritha, who was on a KSRTC bus full of Sabarimala devotees, was intimidated by the mob and violently physically attacked and verbally abused.

Also read: TNM reporter Saritha Balan attacked by anti-women Sabarimala mob near Nilakkal

The crew of many television channels were also heckled and attacked by protesting mobs chanting slogans of the deity Ayyappa.

Also read: Republic TV, CNN-News18 journalists attacked by anti-women Sabarimala mobs

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