Malayalam film director Priyanandan, who recently courted controversy for a Facebook post on the entry of women into Sabariama, was attacked by unidentified men at a shop near his home in Vallachira in Kerala’s Thrissur district on Friday. The incident occurred around 9 am, reported Mathrubhumi.

Leaders of Hindutva outfits have alleged that the remarks, which have since been deleted from Facebook, were blasphemous. Bharatiya Janata Party leader B Gopalakrishnan has warned the director that Sangh workers will not allow him to walk freely in the district.

The director alleged that BJP workers were behind the attack. The men allegedly poured cow dung mixed with water on Priyanandan before beating him up. “I know the attackers,” the director told reporters. Priyanandan said he would not file a police complaint, according to Manorama.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condemned the incident. “It was an attack on freedom of speech and expression and the government would not tolerate such incidents,” he said.

Priyanandan’s movie Pulijanmam won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film award in 2006. Some of his other films are Bhakthajanangalude Sradhakku, Neythukaran, and Sufi Paranja Katha.

The row

Women of menstruating age have traditionally not been allowed into the temple, but the Supreme Court on September 28 put an end to the restriction. The Kerala government, led by the Left Democratic Front, had vowed to implement the judgement, but the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress strongly opposed it. A batch of 49 review petitions have come up for hearing before the Supreme Court.

The temple closed on January 20 after a 67-day annual pilgrimage season, during which massive protests had erupted in the state against the entry of women into the temple. Over two dozen women devotees unsuccessfully attempted to enter the shrine during the season. On January 2, civil servant Kanakadurga and law lecturer Bindu Ammini became the first women of menstruating age to enter Sabarimala and offer prayers. However, the temple was briefly closed for purification rituals after that. The temple will reopen again on February 13 for the monthly pooja in the Malayalam month of Kumbham.