Activist and head of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena, Rahul Easwar, was granted bail on Monday by a local court in Ranni in Pathanamthitta. His lawyer filed an emergency bail application with the local court after bail was rejected on Saturday by the Pathanamthitta first class magistrate. Rahul Easwar, along with 20 other protesters, were arrested at Sabarimala hill last week, and were held at Kottarakkara sub-jail. Rahul was arrested allegedly due to the protests and unrest on Sabarimala hill over the women’s temple entry issue on the first day of the temple opening after the Supreme Court controversial verdict allowing women between 10 and 50 years to enter the temple.
He was charged by Pamba police under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including section 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), read with 149 (member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecuting of common object of the assembly), and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public serving from discharge of duty), and sentenced to 14 days judicial remand.
Ever since the Sabarimala temple doors opened to devotees on Wednesday evening last week, the temple and surrounding areas have seen incidents of violence against women, including journalists, attempting to enter the temple, in addition to protests that have broken out at various points on the hill. So far, no woman between the age of 10 to 50 has been able to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Kerala temple.
Rahul Easwar’s wife, Deepa Rahul Easwar, spoke out on social media last week, saying that Rahul had been wrongly charged with a non-bailable offence of obstructing police officers from doing their duty. She claimed that Rahul was arrested at Sannidhanam, but that the non-bailable offence he was charged with — obstructing police from accompanying a woman named Madhavi up to the temple — occurred at Marakkootam.
Deepa also claimed that her husband had been arrest in secret, with police transporting him in a tractor covered by a tarpaulin sheet. She also said Rahul Easwar had begun an indefinite hunger strike.