BJP leaders in Kerala have alleged that Kerala police stopped Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan at Pamba base camp when he was returning from the hill shrine of Sabarimala well past midnight on Thursday.
But Kerala police promptly refuted the charge and said all they did was stopping a vehicle carrying the BJP leaders who accompanied the minister for a routine check and admitted their action was a case of mistaken identity.
The car was allowed to proceed after their suspicion that a troublemaker they were looking for might be inside the vehicle proved unfounded, the police said.
The CCTV footage from Pamba base camp showed minister's convoy passing a police check post at 1:13 AM today.
Seven minutes later, the police was seen stopping a vehicle. But the BJP leaders who accompanied the minister in the vehicle said they were checked multiple times by the police.
"This CCTV footage is only of the third and final checking. But where is the CCTV footage of two other two instances. It's because of the earlier checking there was the lag of seven minutes between the minister's convoy and our vehicle", Sandeep Vachaspati, media coordinator of the BJP in Kerala told NDTV.
Kerala police said they were doing their job and checking vehicles is part of it.
"This is part of our job, it's only after checking that one can ascertain facts. It was a case of mistaken identity. We were on a lookout for a suspected troublemaker" senior police officer Hari Sankar told NDTV.
He said once it was certain that the man they were searching for was not inside the vehicle, it was allowed to proceed. But not before the minister Pon Radhakrishnan entered into an argument with the police over what was happening.
The minister is heard in the CCTV recording telling the police officer "you please give it in writing that by mistake you have arrested him."
"I have not arrested anyone sir. This is a normal procedure", top cop Hari Shankar explained. To this the minister retorted: "What regular procedure is this? Stopping a minister at 1:30 AM is regular?"
The police gave a written explanation to the minister before he left the scene.
The BJP is staging protests across the state after the September 28 Supreme Court order that had allowed women of all ages to offer prayers at the hill shrine. The protesters say allowing women of menstruating age to enter the temple is an insult to the celibate deity at the shrine, Lord Ayyappa.