Close to 100 people, including Sangh Parivar and Kerala Students Union activists, were arrested across the district in connection with protests organised against the entry of two women below the age of 50 years into the Sabarimala Temple on Wednesday.
A majority of the arrested were released on bail except those charged with serious offences. The Vadakkekkara police arrested two Sangh Parivar activists on the charge of assaulting a women officer of the Special Branch on duty at Thuruthipuram. The arrested are Santhosh and Unnithan from Kodungalloor.
The protesters had allegedly smashed the windshield of a KSRTC bus, and the officer was recording a video and collecting evidence from the bus crew when a group of five assaulted her.
“They [protesters] grabbed her hand and took away her mobile phone. We are on the hunt for the remaining three accused. The arrested have been slapped with provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and various Sections of the IPC, including 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty),” said Stepto John, Sub Inspector, Vadakkekkara police.
Marches taken out
The Central Police arrested around 50 KSU and Sangh Parivar activists in connection with two separate demonstrations. While the KSU activists were arrested on the charge of taking out a protest march to the office of the District Police Chief (Kochi City), the Sangh Parivar activists were arrested on the charge of conducting a march to the venue of a programme organised by Dalit and women’s rights activists celebrating the entry of women into the Sabarimala Temple. Three women who allegedly tried to disrupt the programme and manhandle the activists were also arrested. The Kothamangalam police arrested and released on bail 20 persons who had participated in a police station march. Twelve persons were arrested by the Kunnathunadu police on the charge of disrupting traffic at Pattimattom Junction, while cases were registered against another 40 persons.
The police remain on high alert in the district in the wake of the developments in Sabarimala.
“The entire force in the rural district has been mobilised, and all officers on leave have been called back. A special police bandobast plan has been drawn up. Maximum men have been deployed on the field with strict direction to firmly deal with violence by invoking non-bailable charges against the perpetrators,” said Rahul R. Nair, District Police Chief (Ernakulam Rural).
Meanwhile, the two women pilgrims who were on their way back after entering the hilltop shrine crossed the district limits to Thrissur around 12.30 p.m. Considering security threats, they reportedly changed vehicles en route.