Thiruvananthapuram: Several devotees of Kerala’s Sarkara Devi temple have gone to the Kerala High Court with a simple demand — evict the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) from the temple’s premises.
To ensure this, devotees have approached the high court: a writ petition filed in the high court alleges that some men who claim to be members of the RSS have been illegally encroaching on temple premises, conducting mass drills and training members on how to fight with weapons on temple grounds every evening between 5 pm and 12 am.
The petition actually goes on to say that their activities disturb the peace of the temple and scare off devotees and visitors. It also said that the “unpleasant smell” and repeated use of “tobacco products like ‘Hans’ and ‘pan masala’ within the temple premises” affects the “cleanliness, purity, and divinity” of the place of worship.
According to the petition filed, RSS men — saying they are RSS members — have been causing “mental stress, agony and loss of calm atmosphere required to be maintained during meditation and offering prayers” at the temple.
“We haven’t received any official notice on this, and so we haven’t filed an affidavit either,” said RSS state secretary P.N. Easwar. Adding, “We’ve looked into the matter, but can’t comment further at this stage.”
“We have no problem with them using the temple grounds,” said 68-year-old G. Vyasan, one of the two petitioners, referring to the alleged RSS members.
“But the way they use it is disrespectful.”
Vyasan visits the temple every day and recounted that he first used to see the drills daily. Those conducting the mass drills use sticks and have, what he describes as, ‘mock fights’ on some days. But besides that, he said, they loiter on the temple premises and generally cause a disturbance after drinking alcohol and consuming tobacco. These “drills” conducted on land right behind the temple, which has been cordoned off with chains and a makeshift barrier of rocks, have stopped since the writ petition was filed on June 20.
A former secretary of the temple, Ajay Kumar, told ThePrint that the men conducting the drills had built the barrier themselves. They wouldn’t allow any other devotees or visitors to use the space and would gather around 5 pm and spend the rest of the evening there, drinking into the night, he alleged.
The correspondent for ThePrint saw empty bottles of liquor, torn packets of tobacco, and what looked like firecracker shells on the temple premises.
“Those men come and shout ‘Jai Shri Ram’ all the time. I don’t understand why, this is a Devi temple!” said one devotee, underlining that the Sarkara Devi temple’s deity is Bhadrakali.