In a political move ahead of Assembly elections, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala had decided to withdraw cases related to the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests and the Sabarimala agitation, reported Hindustan Times.
The Cabinet decided to drop all “cases of not serious criminal nature’’ registered in connection with the Sabarimala and anti-CAA protests as per a party spokesperson. According to some media reports, the Kerala police had registered an estimated 17,000 cases, arraigning around 68,000 people from different Hindutva outfits as accused, in connection with the Sabarimala protests in 2018 following a Supreme Court decision allowing entry of women to the Ayyappa temple.
The citizenship laws that led to widespread protests across the country, resulted in the registration of 530 cases from January to March, 2020 in Kerala. CPI (M) acting State Secretary A Vijayaraghavan told HT that the Left front does not have any negative attitude towards democratic agitations, adding that the cases were withdrawn in accordance with the opinion of the public.
According to a report in IE, the Congress party had earlier announced that it would withdraw all cases related to both issues if voted to power, putting pressure on the ruling front to take this decision. As reactions surfaced, Congress welcomed the idea of dropping such cases with the State President Mullappally Ramachandran going a step ahead and saying, “The Congress raised the demand right from the beginning. However, it was Vijayan’s (Chief Minister) arrogance that led to the delay in withdrawing the cases. Vijayan should be willing to rectify his mistake”.
While speaking to The Indian Express, S J R Kumar, general secretary of Sabarimala Karma Samithi expressed his concern about the implementation and said, “Hundreds of false cases have been registered against the devotees who took part in peaceful nama japa (prayer) yatras. Although the Cabinet has decided to withdraw the cases, we have to see how the decision is going to be implemented. We want all the cases to be withdrawn without any condition. The faithful, arraigned as accused in false cases, have already spent Rs 3 crore towards the court expenses of the cases. The decision is only aimed at the elections.”
Kerala’s BJP spokesperson, Sandeep G Varrier was of the opinion that the real intention of the government is to withdraw cases against those who rioted against the country in the name of CAA. He told IE, “If the government is sincere in its intention, all cases related to Sabarimala protests should be withdrawn.”
Both BJP and especially Congress had made Sabarimala a crucial talking point using it as a leverage for the upcoming elections. As per a report in The News Minute, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala dared the present Kerala government to file a fresh affidavit in the court, seeking to reinstate the custom of prohibiting women in the age group of 10 to 50 from entering the temple. The earlier affidavit filed in court by the LDG government favoured the entry of women.
“Sabarimala is definitely an important issue. We are eager to know whether they (LDF) are ready to change their earlier affidavit,” he commented. The Sabarimala verdict of allowing women’s entry had triggered state violence which compelled the Supreme Court to refer the matter to a larger Bench. The matter is now pending.
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