"Rip women in half who enter Sabarimala", says actor

"Rip women in half who enter Sabarimala", says actor

Kollam Thulasi

The controversy around the entry of women of all ages to the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple took an unsavoury turn on Friday with actor Kollam Thulasi saying young women who turn up at the hill shrine should be ripped in half.

The senior actor’s open call for violence came at a public meeting in Kollam, held as part of ongoing protests by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to protect customs of the temple.

Addressing the gathering, Thulasi said he knew “cultured” women would not visit the shrine, but he wanted the “mothers” to stop young women from entering the temple. “There are some women who are preparing to enter the temple. If they come, they should be ripped in half and the parts be dispatched to Delhi and the Chief Minister,” he said.

The NDA is organising a march from Pandalam to Thiruvananthapuram, between October 10 and 15, in a statement of dissent against the CPM-led state government over implementation of the Supreme Court judgment, which allowed women of all ages entry to the temple.

Thulasi is an actor known for his antagonist turns in the 1980s and 1990s. His speech could leave the BJP state leadership to answer some tough questions – state president P S Sreedharan Pillai has repeatedly said that the agitation followed a “Gandhian” model.

Right-wing outfits and collectives of devotees are protesting across Kerala, contending that the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years to the temple would adversely affect traditions pertaining to the deity, a naishtika brahmachari (celibate).

The CPM-led Left argues that it’s fighting a battle of perception and is preparing to counter what it calls a “misinformation campaign” against the government by holding public meetings to explain its stand on the issue.

Pillai said the CPM move to reach out to the people was a victory for the BJP-led resistance. On Friday, a day-long protest against the judgment held near the state Secretariat here was attended by members of the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, former custodians of the temple.

The Sabarimala temple will be open for monthly pujas on October 17.