Ayyappa devotee found dead; BJP hartal in Pathanamthitta begins

Ayyappa devotee found dead; BJP hartal in Pathanamthitta on Friday
Shops remained shut and the roads stayed empty following a dawn-to-dusk-hartal called by the BJP in Pathanamthitta, a scene from Aban Junction.

Pathanamthitta: Vehicles stayed off the road and shops remained shut after the BJP called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Pathanamthitta district on Friday to condemn the death of a Sabarimala pilgrim at Nilakkal. The hartal, from 6 am to 6 pm, has the support of Hindu Aikyavedi and Sabarimala Karmasamithi. Parumala church pilgrims have been exempted. The BJP has demanded that the mystery behind the death be cleared.

Sivadasan, 60, a resident of Sarath Bhavan, Mulambuzha in Pandalam, was found dead in the forest near Kambathumvalavu in Plappally on Thursday. He had left his house for visiting the Sabarimala temple when it was opened for the rituals during the Malayalam month of Thulam.

While the police claimed that Sivadasan’s death was an accident, the BJP alleged that he was killed during the police action that took place when the temple opened for the monthly rituals.

Sivadasan, who visited Sabarimala temple on the first day of every Malayalam month, had started from his house on October 18 morning. When he failed to return, relatives filed a missing complaint at the police stations in Pamba, Nilakkal and Perunad on October 21 and Pandalam police station on October 24.

Finally, his body was located during a search conducted by his relatives at the forest near Kambakathumvalavu. His two-wheeler was also found from the vicinity.

Sivadasan had taken part in the Namajapa Yatra taken out in Pandalam against the entry of young women to Sabarimala.

Police dismiss claim

District police chief T Narayanan has refuted the allegation that Sivadasan went missing following the police action. “The police cracked down on protestors on October 16 and 17. But, Sivadasan started from his house only on October 18. He prayed at the temple on October 19 and informed his relatives at home about it. He went missing afterwards,” said Narayanan.

“On October 25, a complaint was received at Pandalam police station that Sivadasan was missing. His body was found at Laha, but the lathi-charge took place at Nilakkal,” added the police chief.

He also said that stringent action would be taken against those raising baseless allegations and circulating rumours.

CM should quit Home: BJP

Meanwhile, BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai demanded that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan hand over the home portfolio to someone else as it has become clear that police action had led to the death of Sivadasan. “The body of Sivadasan who was reported missing since October 17 was found at Plapally forest on Wednesday. He was riding a bicycle with the picture of Lord Ayyappa when the police attacked him and beat him to death,” alleged Pillai.

He also said that the BJP had been demanding a judicial probe from the day Sivadasan was reported missing. The policemen involved in the incident should be charged with murder, said Pillai.

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