Six people, including three women from Tamil Nadu, who wanted to visit the famed Vavar mosque near the Sabarimala temple, have been arrested on charges of trying to create animosity between religious groups and intention to trespass, police said Tuesday.
The six, said to be members of the fringe outfit Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK), were natives of Tirupur, Coimbatore and Tirunelveli in the neighbouring state.
They were arrested near here last night when they were en route to the famed Vavar mosque, which is related to the Sabarimala pilgrimage.
The Erumeli Nainar Juma Masjid, also known as Vavar 'Palli' (mosque) is dedicated to Vavar, the Muslim companion of Lord Ayyappa, the adopted son of the erstwhile Pandalam king as per Hindu belief.
The devotees of Lord Ayyappa visit the mosque during the November-January annual pilgrim season.
They do not enter the prayer hall but circumambulate the mosque, make 'kanikka' (offering) and break coconut at the premises as part of traditions.
The HMK has earlier staged protests against Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the issue of entry of women in menstrual age into the Lord Ayyappa temple.
The outfit had reportedly announced it would send women to the mosque, citing the entry of women into Sabarimala temple.
Police said cases had been registered against the six people for various Indian Penal Code offences, including attempt to promote enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), criminal trespass (as they entered the state with intention to enter the mosque), unlawful assembly and rioting, police said.
Two of the women are from Tirupur while the other from Tirunelveli and the men from Tirupur and Coimbatore.
Police in Kerala are on high alert as it had witnessed violent protests after the entry of two young women into the Ayyappa temple on January 2.
A hartal called the next day to protest against the temple entry had seen largescale violence across the state.
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