The Bharatiya Janata Party's Kerala unit has called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal to protest against Venugopal Nair's suicide and ongoing issues at Sabarimala. “BJP will be observing a state-wide, peaceful, 6 AM to 6 PM harthal tomorrow (14-12-2018), paying homage to Trivandrum resident Shri Venugopal Nair, who committed suicide, heartbroken with the ongoing, unresolved issues at Sabarimala,” tweeted the party's state unit.
BJP will be observing a state-wide, peaceful, 6 AM to 6 PM harthal tomorrow (14-12-2018), paying homage to Trivandrum resident Shri Venugopal Nair, who committed suicide, heartbroken with the ongoing, unresolved issues at Sabarimala. pic.twitter.com/qMgCqQ8ElP
— BJP KERALAM (@BJP4Keralam) December 13, 2018
According to reports, ongoing exams in schools and educational institutes have been postponed due to the hartal.
Several persons took to Twitter to complain about commuting problems and roadblocks. Buses and taxis stayed off the roads. Reports of few tourists facing issues due to the statewide strike also emerged.
However, hundreds defied the hartal call and went ahead to watch Mohanlal's latest release Odiyan.
Fifty-year-old Nair poured kerosene on his clothes, set them on fire at a BJP protest venue early on Thursday and died at the state-run Medical College Hospital in the evening. BJP President CK Padmanabhan, who is on an indefinite fast against the manner in which the Kerala government is handling the Sabarimala temple issue following Supreme Court ruling, was also at the venue.
In his dying declaration, Nair did not refer to Sabarimala issue and said he does not wish to live any longer.
The Kerala Police said that he committed suicide over personal reasons, however, BJP Kerala has contested the claim.
"The deceased, in his dying declaration given to the Magistrate, said he resorted to the act due to depression and ran frantic towards the protest venue after setting himself afire," the police said in a release, adding, "This matter is not connected with any ongoing protest over Sabarimala."
A BJP release claimed that Nair took the extreme step due to the "adamant" stand of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government on the Sabarimala issue.
The state government has said it was constitutionally bound to implement the September 28 Supreme Court. The BJP is opposing any move to allow women in the 10-50 age group to trek the holy hill for 'darshan' at the Ayyappa temple.
With agency inputs