Ayyappa Devotee Found Dead, BJP Calls For Strike In Kerala District

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The BJP called for a 12 -hour hartal in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala today

New Delhi:

The BJP called for a 12 -hour strike in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala today after the body of a 60-year-old Ayyappa devotee was found.

The party alleged that Sivadasan was killed during police action against the "devotees" who were protesting in Sabarimala last month against the Supreme Court order that allowed women of all ages to offer prayers at the hill shrine.

Kerala police refuted the charge and said this is part of "several attempts to create rumours and false propaganda" linking the death of Sivadasan to the police response "taken to implement the Supreme Court order in Sabarimala."

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The family members of the devotee who is from Pandalam filed a missing complaint on October 25 and his body was found in a gorge yesterday from a place far away from the scene of police action against the protesters, a police official said.

In the complaint, the family said Sivadasan had gone to Sabarimala on October 18. He called the family next day after offering prayers at the temple, informing them that he was on his way back home.

The police contended that the action against the protesters had taken place on November 16 and 17, a day before Sivadasan left for Sabarimala.

"On October 19, he even called back home from the phone of a fellow devotee from Tamil Nadu and informed that he was returning. But he didn't return. The family filed a man missing case on October. This is the truth," said T Narayanan, police chief of Pathanamthitta district. He said police will take actions against anyone trying "to spread false information" about the incident.

The massive protests had forced as many as nine women to turn back from various stages of their walks to the temple last month when the hill shrine opened for the first time after the Supreme Court order that allowed women of all ages to enter Sabarimala. The shrine is set to open again on November 5. The police have stepped up security in and around Sabarimala.

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