Man, Who Heckled Journalists In Sabarimala, To Oversee Women’s Wall

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CP Sugathan is the general secretary of an organisation called the Hindu Parliament.

Thiruvananthapuram:

A man, who was allegedly part of the mob that heckled the NDTV team during protests at Sabarimala, has been appointed as the joint convener of a committee formed by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to supervise the human chain of a million women being organised on January 1 in the state.

While announcing his ambitious project, the chief minister said "organisations are coming together to save Kerala from going back to dark ages" and invited "progressively-thinking" minds of the state to come together for the movement.

The human chain will go from Kerala's northern district to southern Thiruvananthapuram.

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CP Sugathan, general secretary of an organisation called the Hindu Parliament — who didn't deny being part of the mob that heckled journalists near Sabarimala — has been roped in to oversee preparations leading up to the event.

Does this mean that the man chosen for the job now agrees with the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple?

"No, we haven't changed our stand. The Supreme Court has agreed to review its order. We will wait for the final verdict," he told NDTV.

The chief minister calls the January 1 event as a progressive movement. Mr Sugathan says his organisation is progressive. But they don't appear to be on the same page when it comes to the Sabarimala issue.

"The women's wall isn't related to Sabarimala. The implementation of the Supreme Court order is their (Kerala government) business. Government's policy is separate," Mr Sugathan explained.

The chief minister will be told our position and if he accepts that then he can keep us, he added.

But the chief minister justified his appointment saying this event aims to bring all the organisations on the same platform.

"This committee includes several organisations. No one can be left out on the ground that they stopped anyone in the past from going anywhere," Mr Vijayan said while referring to the Sabarimala protests.

In October, angry men had targeted women mediapersons covering the protests near Kerala's Sabarimala temple. Midway through live telecast of the events, NDTV was stopped from covering the protests and its reporter Sneha Mary Koshy and cameraperson SP Babu were heckled and asked to leave.

"What kind of men are being used to ensure this wall to be formed by women across Kerala? What is this chief minister doing? CP Sugathan was part of the mob that stopped NDTV reporter and other journalists and raised slogans against them," Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala told media.

The Kerala assembly was adjourned within 20 minutes today following protests by the United Democratic Front (UDF) inside the House. This is the fourth time since last Wednesday when the assembly was adjourned for the day amid protests.

"The state government has to understand the sensitivities of people in Sabarimala issue. The move to form a massive human chain by women is only going to polarise the state further. Women from Kudumbashree have told me that they are being forced to be part of this event," Mr Chennithala added.

UDF lawmakers are set to begin a satyagrah in the assembly. The United Democratic Front (UDF) is an alliance of political parties in Kerala.

BJP state general secretary AN Radhakrishnan began his indefinite fast today in the presence of the central BJP delegation, which will submit a report on the Sabarimala issue to BJP's national president Amit Shah.

In September, the Supreme Court allowed women between the ages of 10 and 50 years to enter the Sabarimala temple. However, since the historic order, no woman of menstrual age has been able to enter the hilltop shrine because of massive protests by the devotees who believe changing the tradition would be an insult to Lord Ayyappa.

More than a dozen women tried and failed to make it to the temple, even with heavy police protection. Over 5,000 persons have been arrested during protests across the state.

Mr Vijayan's government claims the huge protests were sponsored by the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the RSS. The BJP calls them "people's protests" and questioned the need for deployment of 15,000 security personnel at the shrine during its opening last month.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing petitions seeking review of its order from January 22.

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