The Bharatiya Janata Party announced on Thursday that it would observe a shutdown in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district on Friday after the police allegedly stopped Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan’s cavalcade in Kerala’s Sabarimala early in the morning.
The police, however, claimed they did not stop the minister’s vehicle and had only checked the last vehicle in his cavalcade as they suspected a person who had created trouble at the temple was in the car. “We didn’t stop the minister’s vehicle,” said Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Shankar. “We checked another vehicle and gave them an inspection report. It is a normal procedure. We have given them in writing that the police did not find anything suspicious from the car.”
“It was not an apology,” he added, reacting to reports that the police had apologised to the Union minister.
The minister had got into an argument with Superintendent of Police Yathish Chandra after arriving at Nilakkal, the base camp of the hill shrine on Wednesday morning.
BJP state General Secretary AN Radhakrishnan also claimed Chandra “was seen standing with folding hands” when Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala visited Nilakkal on Tuesday, The Indian Express reported. “We want to know whether Chandra behaved rudely with the Union minister since he is dark-skinned, while the officer and the Congress leader are fair…”
Protests erupted in Sabarimala after the Supreme Court ruled in September that women of all ages could enter the shrine. Earlier this month, the court agreed to hear review petitions against the verdict on January 22.
On Wednesday, the Kerala High Court ordered that Sabarimala pilgrims cannot be prevented from moving in groups and chanting devotional songs. The judges also questioned the credentials of the police officers posted at Sabarimala, including Yathish Chandra.