Two cars and a scooter parked outside Swami Sandeepananda Giri’s ashram in Kundamankadavu, on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, were set on fire around 2 am. The assailants also kept wreaths in front of the hermitage.
Reacting to the attack, the director of School of Bhagavad Gita alleged that the entire responsibility for the incident was on BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai, Thazhamon Madom, Rahul Easwar, the family of traditional head priests of Sabarimnala temple and Pandalam Royal family, also associated with the shrine.
“This is not the one should react when absence of logic in statements of such leaders are questioned,” he said.
Following the incident, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan along with Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac visited the ashram. Vijayan condemned the act and said that stringent action would be taken against the accused, whoever they may be.
“The attack is condemnable. Voice of dissent and counter arguments have to be fought ideologically. Things take a violent turn when that does not happen. None shall be allowed to take the law into their hands. Strict action shall be taken against them. Swami Sandeepananda Giri yanks the veil of misinterpreted spirituality used for political benefits and spreads the values of communal harmony in society. Those intolerant to his deeds have unleashed an attack against his Ashram. The society shall wake up to this inappropriate act,” he said in a post on Facebook.
Isaac blamed the Sangh Parivar for the incident and said that “they are is trying to create serious law and order issues”. Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who also visited the ashram, termed the attack brutal and grave and called it an attempt to eliminate Sandeepananda Giri.
“This can be seen as a fascist move by RSS, BJP and Sangh Parivar. Swami Sandeepananda Giri is the face of religious harmony. The assailants might have thought that seeing the fire at the ashram, Giri would come out and it would be easy for them to execute a fatal attack on him. We know that those people wanted to burn him alive,” the minister said, adding that the assailants would be booked soon.
The BJP district leadership, however, has denied any role in the attack and demanded an “unbiased” probe into the incident. Speaking from Kannur, BJP leader PK Krishnadas alleged that the chief minister is behind the attack. “This was an attempt to distract attention from the Sabarimala issue. Sandeepananda Giri does have a role in the conspiracy. DYFI is behind the attack,” he said.
Director general of police Loknath Behra said that a special investigation team under Thiruvananthapuram police commissioner will probe attack. The police team would examine the CCTV footage of the hermitage.
The state had witnessed massive protests from devotees at various places, including Sabarimala, Nilakkal and Pamba, against permitting women of all ages to enter the shrine, where the deity is ‘Naishtika Brahmachari’ (perennial celibate), when the temple was opened for monthly poojas from October 17-22. At least 12 women in the ‘barred’ age group (10-50) had tried to trek the hills to offer prayers but had to retreat following widespread protests.