Kochi: The police on Saturday arrested seven including K.V.P. Krishnakumar (58), a Congress party corporator representing Ernakulam South, and six others for insulting the body of the Ashanthan (Mahesh), the painter who died a few days ago. The Ernakulam Central Police identified others as Rajendra Prasad (60), president of the Ernakulam Siva Temple Committee, K.J. Janardhanan, 60, V.S. Pradeep, 58, I.N. Reghu, 50, P. Girijavallabhan, 61 and A.R. Krishnan, 61.
They face charges of forcibly preventing friends, artists and well-wishers of the departed to place his body at the Durbar Hall, on the Lalitakala Academy premises, for the public to pay homage on the ground that it would desecrate the purity of the nearby Siva Temple. The accused also prevented the body from taking into the DH Hall through the front gate and tore-off a flex-board carrying the picture of the late artist.
Police booked 20 people under sections 147, 149, 143, 294 (b), 506 and 427 of the IPC in connection with the fracas at the Durbar Hall on Wednesday. Police sources said action would also be taken against 13 others in connection with the incident condemned by a large number of people from across the state. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had also taken to the Facebook joining them the other day.
“The attitude of some fundamentalists towards the late artist Asanathan, who belongs to a backward community, is shocking. They insulted the body by campaigning that placing the dead body at Durbar Hall art gallery would pollute the temple,” he had said. A.K. Balan, the minister for scheduled castes and tribes also called for legal action against the culprits.