Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Cabinet has reportedly decided to do away with hundreds of cases registered during the state-wide protests by devotees against the entry of women to the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala following a 2018 Supreme Court verdict. Those booked over the agitation against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) too would be let off.
However, cases pertaining to offences of grave nature during the agitation and the violence in its wake won't be reviewed.
Over 1,000 cases had been registered and over 3,000 were arrested in connection with the violent incidents in the state in January 2019 after the entry of two women into the famed Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta.
Right-wing groups had clashed with the police following the visit of two women of menstrual age at the temple under police protection on January 2, 2019. The latter had arrived at the shrine emboldened by a Supreme Court order of September 28, 2018, allowing women of all age groups into the hill-top shrine.
The Supreme Court ordered the lifting of the ban on women or girls of menstruating age from entering the historic shrine in Kerala, but many devotees and temple authorities protested the move citing the ruling overlooks long-standing traditions.
A week ago the Nair Service Society had demanded the state government to withdraw cases registered against hundreds of devotees who took part in the agitation seeking to secure the customs and practices of the hill shrine.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala of the Congress welcomed the cabinet decision. “The government is now conceding the long-standing demands of the opposition,” he said.
The state unit of the BJP welcomed the withdrawal of cases against Sabarimala protesters, but flayed the cabinet decision to extend a similar treatment against anti-CAA agitators, saying both issues can't be clubbed.
Relief for CAA protesters too
Nationwide protests were witnessed in the country after the Parliament passed the contentious CAA in 2019. In Kerala too vehement protests were held in different parts of the state.
The CAA, which facilitates granting of Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim minorities – Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian – of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, was passed by Parliament in December 2019, triggering protests in different parts of the country.
The President had given his assent to the legislation on December 12, 2019. Under the Act, people from these communities who had arrived in India till December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution in the three countries will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
The Narendra Modi government says the six communities have historically faced persecution in the three Muslim-dominated neighbouring countries.
Those opposing the CAA contend that it discriminates on the basis of religion and violates the Constitution. Critics also say the law discriminates against Muslims and undermines India’s secular constitution.