Kerala hartal to protest Sangh leader's arrest in Sabarimala
Rightwing Hindu outfits have called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Kerala on Saturday in protest against the arrest of a senior Sangh Parivar leader who was on the pilgrimage to the Sabarimala temple.
VHP state president S.J.R. Kumar alleged that Hindu Aikyavedi state president K.P. Sasikala was arrested at Marakkoottam near Sabarimala at 2.30 am on Saturday.
'She was arrested as she was on the way to the hill shrine carrying irumudikkettu (bundle carrying sacred offerings) to offer prayers. Some other activists have been taken into preventive custody,' Kumar told PTI.
He accused the Kerala government of trying to destroy the Sabarimala temple.
The VHP leader said essential services and vehicles belonging to Ayyappa devotees will not be affected by the hartal.
Unprecedented security arrangements have been made at the shrine, which opened for the third time on Friday since the Supreme Court allowed women of child-bearing age to offer prayers at the shrine. A two-month-long pilgrimage season starts on Saturday.
The 41-day mandalam festival will conclude on December 27 after the Mandala pooja. It will reopen for the Makaravilakku festival on December 30.
The Makaravilakku festival will be celebrated on January 14 after which the shrine will close on January 20, marking the culmination of the pilgrim season, when lakhs of devotees are expected to throng the shrine.