The 41-day long Mandala Pooja season commenced at Sabarimala early Saturday morning amidst arrests of various Hindu leaders and attack on devotees unleashed by the Kerala Police since late Friday night.
K P Sasikala, President, Hindu United Front was arrested by the police while she was on her way to worship at the shrine when the sanctum opens for the pooja on Saturday morning. Many devotees were assaulted and attacked by the police, the visuals of which were aired by Janam TV from the Sannidhanam.
A group of devotees from Andhra Pradesh who were trekking from Pamba to the sannidhanam were assaulted and abused by the police. They were told not to proceed to the temple despite their pleas that they be allowed to participate in the Abhisheka Pooja early Saturday morning. One of the police officers was heard asking them to go and perform the Abhishekam at A K G Centre, the CPI-M headquarters at Thiruvananthapuram!
Various Hindu organisations have called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Kerala on Saturday to protest against the arrest of Sasikala and the brutality of the Police. Though there was a feeling among the people of the State that the festival season may pass off peacefully following the announcement by the Travancore Devaswam Board that it would file a stay petition in the apex court seeking time for the implementation of the September 28 verdict of the Constitution Bench allowing the entry of women of all ages in the temple.
But by night the Marxist government ordered a crackdown on Hindus and the shrine is totally under the control of the police. Lok Nath Behra, the Director General of Police, who is a Christian convert, is leading the crackdown in the devotees and is helped in the operation by Manoj Abraham, the inspector general of police who is also a leading evangelist in the State.
The general feeling among the devotees who had thronged the temple from various places is that it is not the ideal time to visit the shrine because of the Police Raaj. They also requested the pilgrims who are undertaking the trip not to donate any cash or other materials to the temple because the entire offerings by the pilgrims are being diverted to the CPI-M coffers.
Janam TV, the Malayalam news channel which was airing live reports of the police brutalities came under severe attack on Friday. The channel journalist who tried to interview Sasikala, when she was arrested, was bashed up by the police in a brutal manner.