Photo: AP
Photo: AP

BJP tries to capitalise on Sabarimala pilgrim’s death

BJP Kerala president Sreedharan Pillai continues to claim Sivadasan is a balidani (martyr).

Bengaluru: Kerala is witnessing a curious turn of events as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state has claimed that an Ayyappa devotee, 60-year-old Sivadasan, found dead on Thursday in Pathanamthitta district, was killed in police action near the Sabarimala shrine in October.

The news of the devotee’s death has gone viral on social media, and the party is observing a dawn-to-dusk strike in the district in protest.

However, it has turned out that Sivadasan was not around the protest site and had called his family after the peak of the protests, according to the police. In a statement to media houses, the police said it would take action against those who spread speculation of Sivadasan’s “murder" on social media.

Sivadasan, a resident of Pandalam situated in the district, was found dead on the road to the temple on Thursday. His family had filed a missing person report on 25 October, saying he had set off to visit the temple on 18 October and was in touch with his family until a day later. Mint has reviewed a copy of the complaint.

“The protests in Sabarimala were held on 16 and 17 October. Sivadasan had talked to his family on 19 October. The body was found 16 km away from where the protests occurred on the Nilakkal-Pamba route," said the police statement.

However, BJP Kerala president Sreedharan Pillai continues to claim Sivadasan is a “balidani" (martyr).

“BJP calls for hartal in Pathanamthitta in protest against the brutal killing of Ayyappa devotee Sivadasan in police atrocity," Pillai posted on his Facebook page on Thursday night.

C Sivadasan , an Ayyappa devotee was missing since the day of police brutality on protesting devotees ... Today his body is found in nearby forest ... Our prayers for his departed soul ... Pinarayi now has blood on his hands ...#CPMKillsDemocracy," tweeted BJP general secretary B L Santhosh.

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