Pamba: Ten BJP activists including AN Radhakrishnan and JR Padmakumar were arrested from Nilakkal, near Sabarimala, Kerala. They abused the chief minister and Devaswom minister for helping women to attempt entry into Sabarimala with police protection.

After this incident, the police arrested the workers. The incident occurred at 2 pm. They were then taken to Nilakkal police station. Both the leaders said they had violated the ban because of the government's stand on Sabarimala issue. The ban on Pamba, Sannidham, Nilakkal and Elavukal stretched the prohibitory order for three more days. 

Radhakrishnan said thousands of Ayyappa devotees were ready to give up their lives to protect the sanctity of the poonkavanam (the holy forest of Lord Ayyappa). Meanwhile, a member of the Travancore Devaswom Board criticised the statement issued by the Sabarimala temple tantri (chief priest) that the shrine would be shut down in case its traditional customs are broken.

KP Sankaradas alleged that the chief priest Kandararu Rajeevaru's statement was in contempt of court since the doors of the Sabarimala temple were thrown open to women of all age groups by the Supreme Court. It was also against the custom of the temple, he said.

The TDB member further alleged that the chief priest and Pandalam royal family, the traditional custodian of the Lord Ayyappa temple, were trying to further the political agenda of certain groups.

Sankaradas also flayed the action of 30 parikarmis (priests who assist the chief priest in conducting daily poojas) for protesting in front of the 18 holy steps at Sannidhanam against the police decision to escort two women in the menstrual age group to Sabarimala temple.

He said the incident has hurt the sentiments of the devotees of Lord Ayyappa. An explanation has been sought from them for staging protests at Sannidhanam, he said.

The Sabarimala temple complex had witnessed high drama and tense moments on Friday when two women reached the hilltop with heavy police escort, but had to return before reaching the sanctum sanctorum following massive protests by the devotees.

The tantri's comments also came under fire from Kerala minister G Sudhakaran. The minister likened the tantri's statement to the act of downing the shutters of shops during hartal.

However, head priest of the Malikappuram temple at Sannidhanam, Anish Namboothiri, defended the Rajeevaru's statement, saying tantri is the highest authority on matters related to the temple's customs and if it was violated, he has the power to take such action. Namboothiri also defended the protest by parikarmis, saying they were only chanting the mantra of Lord Ayyappa.

Kerala has been witnessing massive protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees opposing the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the Sabarimala temple since the government decided to implement the Apex court order.

The devotees had intensified the agitation at the shrine complex and nearby areas including the base camps, Nilakkal and Pamba, since the shrine was opened for the five-day monthly pooja on October 17.