Thiruvananthapuram: An Ayyappa devotee attempted suicide in front of the secretariat in Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram. The middle-aged man identified as Venugopalan Nair, a native of Muttada, Thiruvananthapuram district, poured petrol on his body and tried to set himself on fire at 2 AM on Thursday. Eyewitnesses said that after splashing petrol over his body and setting himself ablaze, he barged into the protest venue of the BJP. 

Police and other BJP activists soon rushed him to the nearest medical college hospital. Doctors said that he had sustained 70% burn injuries. 

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Regarding this issue, BJP leader MT Ramesh said that the Ayyappa devotee took this extreme step in protest against the state government's attitude towards Sabarimala issue. He also pointed out that the devotee was annoyed by the government’s "irresponsible approach towards the BJP".

The government has not been able to provide necessary security for the BJP leaders and the suicide attempt is testimony to this, he said. 

The Kerala BJP leaders started a sit-in protest with a 15-day hunger strike from December 3 in front of the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram. On December 10, the party leader AN Radhakrishnan was shifted to medical college hospital by the Kerala Police. He was starving for eight consecutive days when he was shifted to the hospital.

Earlier, the BJP called for district-wide dawn-to-dusk hartal on Tuesday in Thiruvananthapuram district over the Sabarimala issue. The decision was taken to protest against the police action on BJP workers and Yuva Morcha activists.

Earlier, after activist Trupti Desai announced that she would visit Sabarimala temple, Shiv Sena group announced that they would stage a mass suicide. The Sabarimala temple has been carrying decades-old ritual of closing its path to women, as believed to be followed by Lord Ayyappa himself, while he was practising celibacy and abstaining from all worldly pleasures and distractions.