KOCHI/THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The bitter memories of last year’s trouble-torn Sabarimala pilgrimage season surfaced again on Tuesday after Bindu Ammini, one of the two women activists who managed to enter the hill shrine temple last year, was attacked with a chilli spray by an Antharashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP) worker in the City Police Commissioner’s office in Kochi. The Left government alleged it was a conspiracy and reiterated those who want to have darshan should come with a court order.
The day-long drama began on Tuesday morning when Pune-based activist Trupti Desai reached the Commissioner’s office along with five others from her Bhoomatha Brigade organisation and Bindu, seeking police security to proceed to Sabarimala temple.
Hearing reports of Trupti’s arrival, hundreds of Sabarimala Karma Samithi workers rushed to the commissioner office by 7.15am itself. Following this, Trupti and others were directed to stay inside the office. When Bindu came out to take a file from her car, Sreenath Padmanabhan, 28, co-ordinator of AHP’s Hindu Helpline sprayed chilli on her. He was arrested while Bindu was shifted to Ernakulam General Hospital.
Following the incident, hundreds of Karma Samithi workers continued laying siege to the office chanting Saranam mantra. Many police personnel were deployed in the area to manage the situation. By 11 am, protests ended police said Trupti would be sent back.
Trupti and fellow activists remained at the Kochi City Commissionerate for about 12 hours after police informed them that they would not provide protection for the women to trek to the sacred hill temple.
She said her group will visit Sabarimala without protection, but the police refused to give sanction citing law and order issues. She demanded a written document from police stating they did not provide protection for the group. A team of officers headed by DIG K P Philip held talks with Trupti.
“We will visit Sabarimala temple on Tuesday, on Constitution Day. Neither the state government nor the police can stop us from visiting the temple,” Trupti told reporters. However, at 8pm Trupti came out of the Commissionerate and told media persons that the group was returning leaving following the direction of the police. A police team accompanied the group to the Nedumbassery Airport.
While Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran described the turn of events as a conspiracy, Law Minister A K Balan said women’s entry would not be allowed till a definite court verdict is out.
“There’s a clear agenda and deliberate move to make the peaceful Sabarimala season tension-ridden,” said Kadakampally, adding Tuesday’s developments appeared to follow a well-planned script. “Trupti Desai comes from Pune in Maharashtra, where the BJP and RSS have a strong base. She reaches Kochi airport at 5am,” said Kadakampally.
“They start from the airport saying that they are going to Sabarimala via Kottayam. Later, they are spotted at the Commissioner office. Here, a few persons await them. One of them attacks Bindu with chilli powder. The media provides continuous coverage of these developments,” alleged Kadakampally.
Meanwhile, the Opposition attacked the government over Bindu’s visit to Balan’s office on Monday.
Though it was reported that she had gone to obtain necessary permission to go to the hill shrine, Bindu said she went to file a complaint in connection with the legal assistant rank list in which her name is included. Balan said he was not present at office on Monday and is unaware of the visit.