Thiruvananthapuram: A day after two women entered the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala, the state on Thursday turned into a war zone as protesters armed with stones and crude bombs took to the streets during the dawn-to-dusk strike.
Right-wing groups attacked the media covering the Sabarimala protests, including three journalists from News18.
The journalists attacked outside Kerala house were: Suchitra, Reporter, News 18 Tamil; Ramarajan, Camera person from News 18 Tamil; KP Dhanesh, Camera Person, News 18 Malayalam; AV Mukesh, Camera Person, Mathrubhumi News; PS Arun, Camera Person, 24 News.
One of the protesters attacked News18 reporter Suchitra and broke her mobile. The journalists have decided to lodge a joint police complaint in this regard.
Nearly 750 troublemakers were arrested across the state for indulging in violence, while 628 others were taken into preventive custody, police said.
A staggering 559 cases were registered in connection with violent incidents.
Reports say that more that 100 buses were damaged causing huge financial loss to the state.
On Wednesday, Kerala’s Mathrubhumi newspaper published a photo of Shajila Abdulrahman, a cameraperson, continuing to shoot the protest in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday even after she was attacked by the agitators.
She was heckled, abused and threatened with dire consequences but her camera had kept rolling. A cameraperson wih Kairali Television, she had been assigned to get reactions from BJP leaders about Bindu Ammini and Kanakadurga’s historic feat of offering prayers at the Sabarimala shrine, becoming the first women under 50 to enter the sanctum sanctorum since the Supreme Court verdict.
Hordes of right-wing activists were on the streets soon after the shutdown began, placing burning tyres and granite blocks on the roads, bringing vehicular traffic to a halt at several places.
The state was under siege as they attacked over 20 offices of the ruling CPI(M) and its other Left allies, and clashed with police, leaving at least 31 personnel injured.
In Thrissur, three BJP activists were stabbed during a scuffle with workers of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political wing of Popular Front of India, a militant Islamic outfit, police said.
The incident occurred when saffron party workers attempted to force a restaurant to down the shutters.
As tempers ran high in Kerala, the Supreme Court refused to urgently hear a contempt petition moved by a lawyers' group against the Sabarimala temple authorities for closing the shrine for purification after two women entered it.
As the state plunged into chaos, Governor P Sathasivam sought an "urgent report" from Chief Minister Vijayan on the disturbances.
The BJP actively supported the hartal, while the main opposition Congress separately observed a 'black day' to protest the entry of the women into Sabarimala temple, the abode of Lord Ayyappa, its "eternally celibate" deity.