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1,000 arrested under Op Broken Window after violent shutdown over Sabarimala

Thiruvananthapuram: More than 1,000 people have been arrested in Kerala under a police operation “Broken Window” following shutdown over the entry of two women into the Sabarimala temple as political workers clashed with police and each other across the state.

The shutdown was called after Bindu and Kanakadurga defied the centuries-old tradition and offered prayers at the hilltop shrine to Lord Ayyappa on Wednesday, infuriating the traditionalists. (live updates)

The situation remained tense on Friday as bombs were hurled at the house of Malabar Devasom Board member Sasikumar in Perambra in Kozhikode district early in the morning. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) blamed RSS for the attack.

At least 50 houses of rival parties, primarily Bharatiya Janata Party and CPI(M) workers, were also attacked on Thursday night. In Adoor, 40 houses were attacked.

Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s managing director Tomin Thachankery said at least 99 were damaged in Thursday’s shutdown. Employees of KSRTC later staged a rally with the damaged buses.

The dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of pro-Hindutva groups, and the Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP), to protest the entry of two women of menstruating into the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday brought the state to a standstill.

Their activists hurled crude bombs and stones as they rampaged through the streets of Kerala, fighting pitched battles with police and political rivals, leaving scores of people injured including three BJP workers in a knife attack, officials said.

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. At least ten journalists were also attacked and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists decided to boycott the press meets called by the BJP. Journalists also staged a protest march.

The state’s police chief Lok Nath Behera said a special team will probe the assault on media.

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 BJP workers attempted to force a restaurant to down the shutters.

A 55-year-old man, who was seriously injured when CPI(M) workers hurled stones at protesters from atop their party office at Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district, died late Wednesday night. He will be cremated on Friday.

However, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said while speaking to reporters that Chandran Unnithan died due to a cardiac arrest. The postmortem examination, however, later confirmed he died from serious head injuries.

Unnithan was part of the protest march taken out by Sabarimala Karma Samithi on Wednesday evening which came under attack by CPI(M) workers. Nine people accused of involvement in the attack have been identified and two of them arrested, police said.