An ashram run by a supporter of the Supreme Court’s Sabarimala verdict came under attack early on Saturday here, Kerala Police said, and announced a probe by a special team.
While Swami Sandeepananda Giri accused the BJP-RSS combine for the attack, a Sabarimala tantri family member said the monk himself set his property ablaze to implicate the saffron brigade, who in their turn named the Left party for trying to frame them for the religious fallout.
Two cars and a two-wheeler parked outside the ashram were set on fire around 2 a.m., said Giri, who was present on the premises at the time.
Giri has been taking a strong stand against the BJP-RSS combine in the state that has criticised the apex court’s September 28 verdict opening the gates of the Lord Ayyappa shrine for all women.
The attack coming amidst an ongoing crackdown on protesters who prevented women between the 10-50 age group from entering the temple between October 17 and 22, saw Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan immediately by Giri’s side.
Vijayan was accompanied by Finance Minister Thomas Issac and State Devasom Minister Kadakampally Surendran.
“The Sangh Parivar is trying to silence me for my position taken against them,” Giri told Vijayan, fearing for his life.
The Chief Minister who has taken a strong stand against any breach of the court’s verdict asked Director General of Police Loknath Behra to take immediate action.
The security at the ashram has been taken over by the police, Behra said, adding that a special team headed by Trivandrum City Commissioner P. Prakash would be investigating the attack and “nothing will be left to chance”.
Vijayan told the media at the ashram that the secular minds of Kerala were fully behind Giri. “Kerala knows the stand that the Swami has taken and is known for his secular outlook.
“Those behind this attack will be taken to task and the criminals who have done this will be brought before the law,” he said.
Rahul Eashwar, a member of the Sabarimala tantri family, who had come under attack from Giri said that it’s for the police to find out who was behind the arson.
“If the police finds out that I am responsible, then I should be arrested and if it’s found out that the Swami himself started the fire, he should be taken to task,” said Eashwar.
Senior Congress legislator K. Muraleedharan under whose constituency the ashram is located dismissed Eashwar’s statement. “I know what the Swami stands for and he will never do such a thing. This is nothing but a baseless allegation,” said Muraleedharan.
However, state Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson A.N. Radhakrishnan told the media that it’s the Communist Party of India-Marxist who has attacked the ashram.
“The CPI-M is behind this attack and propagating that we are behind it. We have no role in this,” said Radhakrishnan.