An ashram in Kerala, founded by a preacher who supported the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of women of menstruating age to the famous Shabarimala temple, was attacked by unidentified persons early this morning.
Two cars and a scooter belonging to Swami Sandeepananda Giri’s School of Bhagavad Gita on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram were set on fire at around 2:30 am. The attackers also put a wreath in front of the hermitage.
Local media reported that a white Maruti Suzuki Omni and a Honda CRV were set ablaze. Reports said police have been posted in the ashram following the attack. Police have registered a case and are on the lookout for the attackers.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who visited the ashram this morning, condemned the attack. “Physical attacks happen when you can’t deal ideologically. We will not allow anyone to take law and order in their hands.Those who are intolerant towards Swami’s activities attacked his ashram,” Mr Vijayan said.
Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac alleged that the arson was an attempt to murder. “Swami Sandeepananda Giri has been valiantly fighting the positions adopted by the Sangh Parivar on the Supreme Court order allowing women of all age groups to enter Shabarimala. In this ashram, only Swami and another person were living.
The fire was started in a way to engulf the building. It’s only when people from outside alerted the Swami that he got to know about the fire. Thankfully, the fire force reached quickly. This is the extent they will go to attack the real devotees,” Mr Isaac said.
Sandeepananda Giri, who is also the director of the ashram, reportedly faced threats after he supported the entry of menstruating age into the hill shrine.
The Supreme Court order last month overturned the centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age entering the temple of Lord Ayyappa. Protests and violence were witnessed as the temple opened to devotees for five days earlier this month.
Over 2,800 people from across the state have been arrested and 495 cases have been registered after authorities launched a crackdown on protesters who prevented women from entering the temple.