A court in Kerala on Wednesday granted conditional bail to Bharatiya Janata Party state General Secretary K Surendran and 70 people who were arrested in connection with protests at Sabarimala temple on November 17, PTI reported.
The court in Pathanamthitta district directed the accused not to enter Ranni taluk, where the shrine is located, in the next two months, and ordered them to submit two personal sureties of Rs 20,000 each.
The police had taken Surendran – against whom the Kannur magistrate court had issued a non-bailable warrant – and two other BJP leaders into preventive custody after they tried to visit the Ayyappa temple despite being advised against it. On Sunday, the BJP leader was remanded to 14-day judicial custody.
The others granted bail on Wednesday had been arrested for defying prohibitory orders and chanting prayers inside the temple complex on Sunday. BJP workers had organised statewide protests against Surendran’s arrest, with many activists and leaders of the saffron party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh demonstrating outside Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s home in Thiruvananthapuram.
Union minister KJ Alphons said he was glad that the court had granted bail to Surendran. “It [their arrest] was such an undemocratic and authoritarian act of the government,” he tweeted. On Monday, Alphons had accused the state government of having turned the temple complex into a “war zone” and questioned the rationale behind imposing prohibitory orders.
The hill shrine opened on November 16 for the third time after the Supreme Court in September overturned a ban on the entry of women of menstruating age to the temple. So far, protesting devotees have not allowed women between the ages of 10 and 50 to enter the shrine.