Case Against Top Kerala BJP Leader Caught On Camera With Sabarimala Boast

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Sreedharan Pillai is spearheading his party's protests against allowing women of all ages to Sabarimala

New Delhi:

The Kerala police have registered a case against the BJP's top leader in the state for his controversial speech in which he boasted about the Sabarimala temple protests and said the head-priest consulted him on keeping women of menstrual age out of the hill shrine even if it meant defying the Supreme Court order.

The state president of the party P S Sreedharan Pillai has been accused of committing offences such as intent to cause fear and inducing people to commit a crime "against the state or against the public order."

The police in Kozhikode, Kerala, registered the case against Mr Pillai based on the complaint made by a social activist.

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Mr Pillai, who is spearheading his party's protests against allowing women of all ages to Sabarimala, was heard saying on video – leaked to the media last week – that the agitations were a "golden opportunity" for the BJP in Kerala. The party has only one legislator in the 140-member Kerala Assembly.

He was also heard saying he reassured the head priest of the temple that in a contempt case, he would not be alone; thousands of devotees will be with him.

The priest had said if women aged between 10 and 50 entered the temple he would shut the shrine. "I told him you are not alone. This won't be contempt of court. If there is contempt of court case registered, then it will be against us first. There will be tens of thousands of people with you," Mr Pillai said while addressing the youth leaders and workers of his party in the leaked video.

Though the BJP leader did not deny it, the priest said he never had such a discussion with Mr Pillai.

Both the ruling Left and the Congress said Mr Pillai's speech was a proof that many BJP leaders "connived to create communal tension" in the state in the name of Sabarimala protest.

The Supreme Court had in September ended Sabarimala's decades-old ban on women of a menstrual age entering the shrine. But many devotees refused to accept the order and maintained it was an affront to the celibate deity of the temple Lord Ayyappa.

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