Sabarimala: Part of Union Min's convoy stopped

Sabarimala: Part of Union Min's convoy stopped

Union Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan talks with a police official at Nilakkal, in Pathanamthitta, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. (PTI Photo) 

Dismissing reports that Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan's vehicle was intercepted when he was returning from Lord Ayyappa temple Thursday, the Kerala Police said another vehicle, part of his convoy, was stopped on suspicion that Sabarimala protesters were travelling in it.

They said the car with the BJP workers arrived seven minutes after the minister's convoy had passed, raising suspicion.

However, the party workers alleged that their car was stopped at multiple points by the police and they were harassed.

Party sources said that Radhakrishnan came to the spot after those in the vehicle informed him that they were stopped by the police.

BJP's state media coordinator R Sandeep told PTI that the police "harassed" them after "stopping their vehicle at various points" despite having prior information about those travelling with the minister.

They were allowed to go only after the minister spoke to the officials, he said.

The police said another vehicle part of the convoy was stopped on suspicion that Sabarimala protestors were travelling in it.

The police's reply came after some media reports stated that the minister's vehicle was blocked when he was returning after 'darshan' at Lord Ayyappa temple early Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Union minister had engaged in a brief war of words with the police in Nilackal over the restrictions on private vehicles heading to Pamba, the last entry point to the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

Though Superintendent of Police Yatish Chandra had said Radhakrishnan could travel in his official vehicle, he proceeded to Pamba from Nilackal in a state-run KSRTC bus as a mark of protest against the restrictions that were "causing difficulties" for pilgrims.

He had hit out at the CPI(M)-led LDF government on the Sabarimala issue, alleging that its "master plan" was to harass the devotees and not allow them to go to the temple.

The restrictions were imposed following protests by devotees and activists of the BJP and the RSS over the Kerala government's decision to implement a Supreme Court order allowing the entry of women of all ages into the shrine.

The hill temple at Sabarimala was opened on November 16 for the over two-month-long pilgrimage season amidst tension.