Unidentified people on Saturday morning attacked the ashram of a Hindu religious preacher who has supported the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the entry women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple, ANI reported.
The incident took place at Sandeepananda Giri’s ashram in Thiruvananthapuram’s Kundamankadavu around 2.30 am . Two cars and a two-wheeler were set on fire and a wreath was placed in front of the ashram as a mark of protest, reported Mathrubhumi.
Residents living near the ashram noticed the fire and informed the police and fire rescue service, according to Malayala Manorama.
Giri alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party state President Sreedharan Pillai, the Thazhamon family to which the head priests of the Sabarimala temple belong, and the erstwhile Pandalam royal family – the custodians of the hill shrine – were behind the attack, Mathurbhumi reported.
“They are trying to destroy the people who say [the] truth to the public,” Giri said. The police have initiated an investigation, Malayala Manorama reported.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan visited the ashram and said the attack was part of a conspiracy to kill Giri. “The use of violence reveals the ideological abjectness of the attackers,” he said in a Facebook post. “No one will be allowed to take law into their hands. Swami Sandeepananda Giri champions the values of secularism and has been a strong critic against attempts to politicise religious spaces.”
The chief minister claimed Giri was attacked as he had exposed communal elements. “Those communal forces that killed Mahatma Gandhi still continue their attacks,” Vijayan told reporters.
State Health Minister KK Shailaja said people who were against his stand on the Sabarimala verdict were behind the attack. “We suspect Hindutva ideology extremist are behind the attack,” ANI quoted her as saying. “Swami Sandeepananda Giri said women can enter Sabarimala and that if we want to keep old customs, we can’t go forward as human society because several customs discriminate between men and women.”