The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by a group of ultra-right Hindu outfits on Monday in protest against the alleged attempt to tamper with the religious customs at the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple is unlikely to make an impact in the district.
The hartal has been called by the Ayyappa Dharmasena, Vishala Viswakarma Aikya Vedi, Sri Ram Sena, and Hanuman Sena. They have sought promulgation of an ordinance to preserve the rituals in Sabarimala. However, major Hindu organisations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have disowned the hartal. The State RSS leadership is of the opinion that the entry for women to the Sabarimala Temple should not be taken to the streets. Akhila Kerala Viswakarma Mahasabha too has denied any support to it.
Bus services in the district are unlikely to be hit as the operators have decided to ply their buses. Lawrence Babu, general secretary, Kerala State Private Bus Operators’ Federation, told
on Sunday that the hartal call seemed to have evoked no sympathy from the Hindu community. “As of now, there is no plan to pull back buses. If there is any violence, a decision to that effect will be taken accordingly,” he added.
Educational institutions are also expected to function normally. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has not announced suspension of services as yet. Traders too are unperturbed. Raju Apsara, general secretary of the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti, said their members would open the shops as usual.
Meanwhile, functionaries of Hanuman Sena said they would offer special prayers at various temples on Monday. Essential services had been exempted from the hartal, they added. The police, however, are not taking any chances, it is learnt.
Hanuman Sena came into limelight when some of its leaders were involved in the protest against the ‘Kiss of Love’ demonstration at S.M. Street in 2014. Their leaders were also arrested by the police on the charge of extorting real estate businessmen. The sena activists had also organised ‘pork festival’ on a city campus as a counter to pro-Left organisations’ ‘beef festival’.
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