KOCHI: Buoyed by the success of Ayyappa Jyothi, in which lakhs of people lined up from Hosangadi in Kasargod to Kanyakumari, covering a distance of 795 km, lighting lamps and vowing to protect the age-old customs of Sabarimala, leaders of the Sabarimala Karma Samithi (SKS) demanded that the authorities respect the sentiments of devotees.
Former DGP T P Senkumar, former PSC chairman K S Radhakrishnan, Suresh Gopi MP, former Women’s Commission member Prameela Devi, activist Aswathi Jwala, Swami Chidanandapuri, author Madampu Kunjukuttan, KPMS state president N K Neelakandan Master, film-maker Ali Akbar and Sasikumara Varma of Pandalam Palace were among the prominent persons who participated and lighted lamps pledging solidarity with the devotees.
“Around 21 lakh devotees participated in the programme outside Kerala. People gathered in large numbers and lighted lamps in 11 states reflecting the sentiments of devotees. The CPM unleashed widespread violence against the devotees participating in the Ayyappa Jyothi programme in Kannur and Kasargod districts. As many as 31 devotees, including 10 women and three children, suffered grievous injuries, while 60 others sustained minor injuries in the attack. This reveals the intolerance of the ruling party,” said Sabarimala Karma Samithi general convenor S J R Kumar.
He said the SKS would observe a nationwide protest day on Thursday against the violence unleashed by the CPM activists on devotees. The SKS activists will take out protest marches across the state on Thursday, said Kumar.
“They hurled country bombs on the people who attended the Ayyappa Jyothi and the buses in which the devotees returned were attacked at many places,” he said. Hindu Aikya Vedi president K P Sasikala said the Ayyappa Jyothi programme was a roaring success and it has laid the path for Hindu unity.
“The Ayyappa Jyothi turned out to be a human wall. We never expected such a massive response. We did not force or threaten the devotees to participate in the programme. There were no massive campaigns also. The devotees came on their own and various caste-based organisations extended whole-hearted support. This programme reveals how the community longs for unity,” she said.
BJP state general secretary K Surendran said in a Facebook post that lakhs of people attended the programme setting aside differences to protect age-old customs. This unity will demolish the divisive walls. It will be good for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan if he understands the warning served by the people, he said.
Ayyappa Jyothi needn’t be opposed: Kanam
Striking a tone distinct from that of the major coalition partner CPM, CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran on Wednesday said ‘Ayyappa Jyothi’ organised by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi need not be opposed. Kanam made this statement that could push the CPM to a tight spot while speaking to reporters here. Kanam said Ayyappa Jyothi need not be opposed as it could be a democratic way of protest.