Kerala Temple Board Says No to RSS Drills, Training on Temple Premises

Travancore Devaswom Board issued a fresh directive asking all temples under its control to not allow RSS activities on temple grounds.

New Delhi: Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has asked all temples under its control to not allow mass drills or any other activities organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on their premises.

While this restriction is already in place, the board issued a fresh directive reiterating the ban after reports of RSS activities happening in a few temples in Kerala surfaced.

The circular issued by the board clarified that other than temple festivals and rituals, the premises should not be used for other purposes and officers who fail to comply with this order may face strict action.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had expressed their opposition to RSS using temple premises for their physical training that sometimes involve weapons. Chief minister Pinrayi Vijayan had criticised the right-wing paramilitary organisation for using the temple premises for their shakhas (branches) and physical training, the Times of India reported.

The temple board said that not just the RSS, but other organisations and political parties will also not be allowed to use temple premises for other purposes.

The deputy commissioners, assistant commissioners, administrative officers and sub-group officers of the board have been asked to take steps to ban such activities and report the same to the head office. TDB had issued a similar directive in March 2021 too, the TOI report said.

The move to ban RSS activities in the temples began in 2016 when the LDF government came to power in the state.

In 2016, the then Devaswom Minister, Kadakampally Surendran, had alleged that the RSS was trying to turn temples into ‘storehouses of arms in Kerala’ and that the government had been receiving a large number of complaints in this regard, the Indian Express reported.

The then government had issued a circular using the relevant sections of the Kerala Police Act in the wake of complaints. However, the directives as per the circular were not imposed strictly, the report said.