The Kerala Police on Sunday arrested at least nine Bharatiya Janata Party leaders for violating prohibitory orders at Nilakkal base camp near Sabarimala temple even as the party sought to intensify its protests against the entry of women into the temple, reported Hindustan Times. Police had imposed restrictions at the Sabarimala temple and nearby areas after repeated incidents of violence at the temple.

State BJP spokesperson B Gopalakrishnan had earlier in the day led a sit-in protest in Nilakkal after police asked him for a written undertaking that he and other leaders would return from Sabarimala within six hours. According to police, Gopalakrishnan was arrested after he refused to give the undertaking and said the group would violate the prohibitory order in Sabarimala, reported Mathrubhumi.

Meanwhile, a central delegation of the party met Kerala Governor P Sathasivam on Sunday seeking his intervention. The four-member team said the current situation was akin to an “undeclared emergency” imposed by the state government, PTI reported. The delegation, led by the party’s General Secretary Saroj Pandey, submitted a petition demanding that prohibitory orders be lifted at the temple.

“Anybody and everybody, including children chanting hymns or singing bhajans at the shrine, are arrested and put behind bars,” the delegation alleged. “False cases are framed against them, often unbailable.”

BJP state President PS Sreedharan said the party will intensify its agitation. “[BJP] general secretary AN Radhakrishnan will start his fast in front of the Secretariat [in Thiruvananthapuram] on Monday,” Sreedharan said. He said that keeping BJP leader K Surendran in jail for two weeks exposed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s “Stalinist face again”, and refuted reports that the BJP has diluted its stand on Sabarimala.

The delegation will also meet party workers and devotees to get a “first-hand account” of what the BJP has termed “atrocities being committed against the satyagrahis” at the Lord Ayyappa temple, reported NDTV. The team is also planning to meet the Pandalam royal family, who are the custodians of the temple.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said a “women wall” would be formed on January 1 from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram in solidarity with the Kerala government’s stance to follow the Supreme Court ruling.

The temple opened on November 16 for the third time since the Supreme Court in September allowed women of all ages to enter the shrine. But so far, no woman between the ages of 10 and 50 has been able to enter the temple due to massive protests. Before the top court’s September 28 ruling, women of menstruating age were not permitted to enter the temple.