Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today dismissed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s charge that its state general secretary K Surendran, who was en route to Sabarimala last month, was put behind bars in "false" cases.
BJP leader Surendran, along with two others, was arrested on November 18 from the Nilackal base camp at Sabarimala as he attempted to proceed to the Ayyappa temple, despite being advised by the police against it due to law-and-order issues.
The chief minister, replying to a submission of BJP MLA O Rajagopal, said there were 15 cases against the BJP leader, for unlawful assembly, destroying public property and violating prohibitory orders among other charges.
Of these, eight cases were registered before 2016, three are in the investigation stage and the other cases are in the trial stage in different courts, Mr Vijayan said in his reply tabled in the state Assembly.
During a special puja held at the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala last month, prohibitory orders were in force and a 52-year-old woman, who had come for her grandchild's "chorrunnu" (rice-feeding ceremony), was illegally blocked and assaulted by devotees allegedly under the leadership of Mr Surendran at Nadapandal, suspecting that she was in the 10-50 age group.
Since the September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court, allowing women of all ages to enter the temple, no woman in the 10-50 age group has been able to reach the shrine due to protests by the devotees.
A relative of a woman was also assaulted and a case was lodged by the police at the temple complex, the chief minister said, adding that Mr Surendran was the thirteenth accused in the case.