PTI, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/KOCHI: Activist Rahul Easwar, also president of the 'Ayyappa Dharma Sena', was arrested Sunday for his alleged provocative statement related to the entry of women into the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, but released on bail by a court. A team of police personnel from Kochi took Easwar into custody from his residence here. He was later taken to Kochi where his arrest was recorded in the evening, police said.
Police produced him before First Judicial Magistrate court in Kochi and pressed for his judicial remand, but the court rejected it and released the activist on conditional bail. He was directed to appear before police in Kochi on every Tuesday in connection with the case and cooperate with the investigating officers. Easwar was arrested in connection with a case registered against him over his remarks at a press meet in Kochi last week that they had a contingency plan to force the closure of the temple by spilling blood on its premises by some devotees in case any woman in the 'barred' age group managed to reach it.
The Thanthri family has disowned Easwars controversial statement. BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai lashed out at the police action against Easwar. "BJP condemns the police action on Rahul Easwar and also those associated wit the protests over the Sabarimala issue," he told reporters.
A member of the Thazhamon family of Sabarimala tantris (head priests), Easwar has been arrested second time over the Sabarimala issue. Earlier, he was arrested from Sabarimala temple complex on October 17 over the 'save Sabarimala campaign, and later released on bail.
In the latest case, on a complaint filed by a Thiruvananthapuram resident, Easwar has been booked under IPC Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 117 (abetting commission of offence by the public or by more than 10 persons), police said.
At the press meet, Easwar had claimed that 20 Lord Ayyappa devotees opposing the entry of women in the age group of 10 and 50 were ready to inflict knife injuries on themselves on the temple premises, which would have forced the priests to close the gates on account of impurity. "Had their blood fallen on the floor of the temple, that would have forced the priests to shut the shrine for three days for purification rituals," Easwar had said.
Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakkampally Surendran had claimed that effective police intervention had foiled the protesters' bid to "desecrate" the Ayyappa Temple by spilling blood in the premises if women devotees in the 10-50 age group offered prayers.
He had said the "conspiracy" of the devotees was made clear by the statement of Rahul Easwar. The Minister had also claimed the disclosure showed there was a well-conceived plan, similar to that followed by nations to attack their enemies and added this attempt was not only 'seditious,' but also against the interests of devotees. The temple had witnessed high drama with around a dozen
women in 10-50 age group being prevented from entering the temple by protesting devotees after the doors were opened for all women, following the Supreme Court verdict.
On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine. The state police have arrested over 2,000 people in connection with the protests. Coming down on the state government for the laregescale arrest of devotees, the Kerala High Court Friday warned that a heavy price would have to be paid if innocent people were arrested.