Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday said that 100 people, including 38 police personnel, were injured during protests against the entry of two women into the Sabarimala shrine, the Hindustan Times reported. The Bharatiya Janata Party has called for a two-day strike in the state after the women offered prayers in the temple on Wednesday. The Hindu Aikya Vedi and United Democratic Front, which includes the Congress, had also called for a strike on Thursday.
Offices of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) were attacked throughout the state in the clashes, Vijayan said. He said Thursday’s shutdown is the fifth state-wide strike organised by the Sangh Parivar and blamed the continuing protests on Hindutva outfits. “Hartal should be the last resort of the political parties,” he said. “But [the] BJP is calling for hartal at the drop of a hat.”
The chief minister also said that the two women – Kanakadurga and Bindu – who entered the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday were provided security only after they asked for it. Vijayan said the two women were not “airdropped” to Sabarimala. “They visited the shrine like normal devotees,” he said, according to PTI. “None of the devotees protested.”
Vijayan said that the chief priest of the Sabarimala temple, Rajeevaru Kandarau, should not continue in his position since he carried out a purification ritual on Wednesday after the visit of the women. “The priest’s decision to shut temple to do purification rites was a regressive step,” he said. “The tantri acted against the top court of the country. He is not in a position to continue in his post.”
He also praised traders for not joining the hartal, and assured them that police protection will be provided to those who want to keep their shops open, The Hindu reported.
Protests have continued on Thursday, with violence reported in places such as Kozhikode, Kasargod and Palakkad. One person died on Thursday after suffering injuries the day before.