NEWS
13/12/2018 6:29 PM IST | Updated 13/12/2018 6:45 PM IST

BJP Calls Hartal in Kerala After Ayyappa Devotee Sets Himself on Fire, Dies

The 55-year-old man attempted self-immolation near the protest venue of the BJP in front of the Secretariat early Thursday.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM —BJP has called a statewide hartal in Kerala on Friday after an Ayappa devotee, who set himself ablaze earlier today, died in Trivandrum medical college, reported ANI.  The party said that the Kerala chief minister was responsible for his death.

The 55-year-old man attempted self-immolation near the protest venue of the BJP in front of the Secretariat early Thursday.

The man, identified as Venugopalan Nair, was a native of Muttada near here and was an Ayappa devotee, police said.

Chanting ‘swamiye saranam Ayyappa’ mantra, Nair set himself ablaze after pouring petrol over his body and tried to run to the makeshift tent where senior BJP leader CK Padmanabhan has been staging indefinite fast demanding the lifting of prohibitory orders at Sabarimala hill shrine, they said.

However, the party activists and the police, who were present near the venue, doused the fire using drinking water and rushed him to the Government Medical College hospital.

He suffered burn injuries all over the body, but was able to speak, they added. He later succumbed to injuries.

The Supreme Court had on 28 September lifted the ban on the entry of menstrual women in the Sabarimala temple.

The BJP has opposing any move to allow women in the 10-50 age group to trek to Sabarimala for ‘darshan’ at the Ayyappa temple.

When the temple was opened for monthly and special pujas in October and November, there were massive protests by devotees, following which severe restrictions, including prohibitory orders, were imposed.