By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The BJP-RSS’s sinister game-plan to create a martyr on the Sabarimala issue and milk it to gain rich political and electoral rewards ended in fiasco, forcing embarrassed leaders of the saffron brigade to run for cover.
The BJP even called a hartal in Pathanamthitta district to protest against the alleged police role behind the death of an Ayyappa devotee. But its efforts to blame his death on police action came to naught in the face of revelations by close relatives of the dead man.
The police said 66-year-old Sivadasan, a lottery hawker, undertook the pilgrimage on October 18 on a moped. The police action at Nilackal and Pamba occurred on October 16 and 17. The BJP-RSS contention was that Sivadasan died in this police action! However, their death-in-police-action theory was demolished by the disclosures made by his wife that Sivadaan had called her up on October 19! He had told her that he had had his darshan and was on the way back. Since then, he was missing. The police launched a search on a complaint made by Sivadasan’s son. His body was recovered from Laha, 16 km from Nilackal.
Police said Sivadasn was suspected to have been killed in a road accident. The post-mortem report also ruled out death due to police action, and pointed at a possible road accident. His moped was also found nearby. The police have hinted at stringent action against agitators who had spread rumours linking his death with the police action on October 16 and 17.
Needless to say, this was a classic example of the BJP-RSS’s Goebbelsian propaganda aimed at creating a martyr on the Sabarimala issue and take political advantage thereof. But the attempt fell flat in the face of strong evidence to the contrary.
Expectedly, the incident has left a trail of bitterness and shock over the blatant attempts of the saffron camp to use the Sabarimala issue to further its political ends. State BJP leaders were visibly embarrassed and looked sheepish trying to defend the indefensible during debates on prominent TV channels. The sarcastic comment by a prominent BJP detractor said it all: better luck next time, Sreedharan Pillai (BJP state president) and company!
Aggravating the BJP’s discomfiture was strong criticism from the Kerala High Court as well that the party should refrain from using the court to incite violence at the hill shrine. The court debunked the theory that Sivadasan was killed in police action, adding that the information available is that he died in an accident; no evidence was found to prove that he died in police action.
Meanwhile, a tight security blanket has been thrown over Sabarimala which will come under the control of a 5000-strong police force from Saturday evening. The strong police contingent has been deployed to prevent people from assembling at Nilackal, Pamba and Sannidhanam.
It may be mentioned that miscreants and criminals had taken advantage of the exemplary restraint shown by the police on an earlier occasion to attack mediapersons, especially women, intimidate them, and shower obscenities on the hapless reporters not only from the state but from national TV channels as well. The police is determined to ensure that there is no recurrence of such violence. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have also been imposed on Nilackal, Pamba, Elavunkal and Sannidhanam from Saturday to the midnight of November 6.
Police have taken adequate precautionary measures in view of reports that a large number of Sangh Parivar outfits have decided to resist the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 to Sabarimala by parading their activists at Nilackal, Pamba and Sannidhanam. Police have also arrested over 3,700 people and registered 543 cases in connection with the violence that erupted in Sabarimala.
In view of the strict police arrangements, the Sangh Parivar plan to engineer fresh violence is unlikely to succeed this time unlike on the earlier occasion.
The tough stance adopted by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the LDF Government and firm manifestation of the Government’s resolve to maintain law and order has earned the appreciation of real and genuine Ayyappa ‘bhakts’, too.
The temple will open for one day on November 5. It will reopen on November 17 for the mandalam-makara vilakku season. (IPA Service)