Protests have rocked the state of Kerala ever since two women in their 40s, Bindu Ammini and Kanaka Durga, successfully entered the Sabarimala hill temple on Wednesday morning. The Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of anti-womenâ€™s temple entry groups, called for a state-wide hartal to protest the event and to protest the death of a Karma Samithi worker, Chandran Unnithan, who died in clashes on the issue in Pandalam on Wednesday night.
While violent protests broke out despite the hartal across Kerala, the situation reached a peak at a protest in Palakkad, leading to the arrest of over 50 BJP workers there. BJP workers in Palakkad had planned a protest march beginning at Government Victoria College, Palakkad around 11.30am. As BJP supporters began arriving at the location where the planned protest march was set to begin, CPI(M) workers began to throw stones at the protesters from a CPI(M) district office located near the college gate. This prompted BJP and CPI(M) workers to pelt stones at each other there.
As the gathering of BJP workers at the gate of Government Victoria College grew in number, Student Federation of India members, a student body affiliated to the CPI(M), began throwing stones at the gathered protesters from a hostel within the college. This led to a confrontation between the SFI members and BJP workers, leading to grave destruction of property within the college.
Meanwhile, an ABVP cadre climbed the M Krishnan Nair gate of the Government Victoria college and took down the SFI flag and instead hoisted a saffron flag. A few hours later, SFI students came and took down the saffron flag, and put back theirs. The college hostel, a building right at the entrance, was vandalised by protesters.
The violence that took place before the planned protest march even began caused police officials posted there to revoke permission for the march. Police refused to allow the march to take place despite holding discussions with BJP workers there for over an hour.
As the BJP protesters finally began to disperse and make their way elsewhere, one group of BJP workers came across a CPI district office at around 1pm, located behind Victoria College. They destroyed vehicles parked outside the office, and threw stones at the windows, breaking several.
These incidents sparked a nearly half-hour long battle in the area between police officials and BJP protesters, who had dispersed into various roads and lanes around the planned protest location. The situation finally calmed after police brought in a Vajram vehicle and used teargas to disperse the protesters.
DYFI and CPI (M) offices too were attacked later in the day. A car parked in the CPI (M) office was completely vandalised.
Several police vehicles were attacked in the violence, and it is currently unknown how many individuals have been injured in this incident in Palakkad.