Chennai: Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan raised the issue of pilgrims suffering due to police restriction in Sabarimala and also moved a privilege issue, in the Lok Sabha, against the Kerala police official Yathish Chandra for allegedly “disrespecting” him at Nilackal while on a pilgrimage to Lord Ayyappa temple.
A video of Mr Radhakrishnan arguing with the Superintendent of Police Chandra to allow private vehicles to ferry pilgrims had gone viral recently. In the video, the police officer was seen saying only government vehicles would be allowed but the Minister can use his vehicle since he is a VIP. Mr. Radhakrishnan however chose to trek the hills and offered prayers at the shrine. The Minister, the lone BJP MP elected from Tamil Nadu, narrated the incident which happened at Nilackal, a remote Ghat region of Ranni forest division in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, to the House, during the Zero Hour on Wednesday. The House was adjourned till 2 pm
“I was told that the private vehicles were not allowed to go beyond that point and pilgrims were forced to take government buses,” he said while moving the privilege motion against IPS officer for his alleged ‘misconduct” when he had visited Sabarimala on Nov. 21 along with four other devotees. They were stopped 22 km away from the complex.
He was witness to the ‘pain and anguish of the pilgrims including senior citizens and
Children.’ Some devotees were forced to take government buses but there were not many. “I enquired the police about the reason only for allowing government buses and not private buses...there were no answers,” he maintained. Yathish Chandra intervened and informed him that private buses would not be allowed ‘because there is landslide and also there was congestion’ the Minister said and added, “I asked him how government buses were allowed and there was no congestion...there was no proper response.”
Instead of responding, the police officer asked whether the Minister would take the ‘responsibility’ if something untoward happens. “I construe this as a mark of disrespect to an elected representative of this House,” he said. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she would look into the matter....