Activist and head of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena, Rahul Easwar, had the decision on his bail plea extended on Saturday by the Pathanamthitta first class magistrate. His bail plea is scheduled to be considered again on Monday. Rahul Easwar, along with 20 other protesters, were arrested at Sabarimala hill on Wednesday, and are being 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 on Thursday.
On Friday, Rahul Easwar’s wife, Deepa Rahul Easwar, said on social media that Rahul had been wrongly charged with the 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.
She also claimed that he was arrested in a very dubious and secretive manner, with police carrying him away from the site of his arrest under a tarpaulin sheet in a tractor. Furthermore, she mentioned that Rahul Easwar was on an indefinite hunger strike that he was carrying out inside the jail.
Ever since the Sabarimala temple doors opened to devotees on Wednesday evening, 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. On Friday, two women, Rehana Fathima and Kavita, reached the Valiya Nadapandal, or the main awnings around the temple before the 18 steps leading to the shrine, which the closest any women between 10 and 50 have ever gotten to the sanctum sanctorum. On Saturday morning, protests and chaos broke out in Valiya Nadapandal after a 52-year-old woman from Tamil Nadu was mistaken for being below 50 years.