The Kerala government on Wednesday said that it will withdraw all cases, except criminal ones, registered in the state during the Sabarimala agitation and the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, reported the Hindustan Times.
The decision was taken by the Cabinet that met in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, according to The New Indian Express.
More than 50,000 people were booked in connection with the Sabarimala agitation. Large-scale violence and five shutdowns took place in the state in 2018 after the Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, annulling an age-old bar on women of reproductive age.
The Bharatiya Janata Party welcomed the decision, but called it an election stunt. The state is going to polls in the next few months. The party had earlier said that the job prospects of a large number of youth would be affected because of the cases registered against them as part of curbing the protests, reported The New Indian Express.
The Indian Union Muslim League, which was at the forefront of the anti-CAA protests, said the ruling Left Democratic Front government had no other choice with the election coming up, reported The New Indian Express.
Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala called the decision ‘wisdom that dawned late’. On February 15, Chennithala had said that the state government registered thousands of cases against the people who participated in the Sabarimala protests. He had claimed that those arrested included devotees of Ayappa who were agitating against the Supreme Court order.
Accusing the LDF government of taking a “revengeful” approach, the Congress leader had promised to withdraw the cases if the United Democratic Front government rose to power. On February 14, the Nair Service Society, an organisation for the welfare of the Nair community, had demanded repealing the cases lodged against those who participated in the Namajapa procession that involves chanting of deity Ayyappa mantras.
G Sukumaran Nair, the Nair Service Society general secretary, had urged the government to show a moral responsibility of withdrawing the cases. He had said that the government has unconditionally withdrawn several cases related to other matters.
Over two dozen women devotees had unsuccessfully attempted to enter the shrine when it opened in January 2019 following the Supreme Court’s verdict. On January 2, civil servant Kanakadurga and law lecturer Bindu Ammini became the first women of menstruating age to enter Sabarimala and offer prayers.
Several mediapersons and women devotees were injured in the protests that followed. A dawn-to-dusk strike called by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, a platform created by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, left one person dead and scores injured.