According to recent reports, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) in Kerala has banned the functioning of RSS Shakhas in Hindu temples under its management. The ban also includes activities unrelated to temple ceremonies, such as weapons and martial arts training, and prohibits the display of flags inside or near temples.
The TDB officials have been instructed to monitor and take strict action against any Shakhas found to be violating the ban. The ban was reissued in April 2021 after a previous ban was not enforced. Despite this, Sangh workers reportedly hold 4,500 Shakhas in Kerala daily.
Former Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran claimed that the Kerala government has been receiving numerous complaints alleging that the RSS was attempting to convert temples into armouries in 2016.
The Travancore Devaswom Board had earlier in 2015 informed the Kerala High Court that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had not been given permission to conduct exercises or “Shakha” on temple grounds. In response to a petition stating that RSS was conducting arm training in temples, the submission was made to the court.
Despite numerous orders prohibiting RSS from temples, the prohibition is not being completely executed, causing the board to once again issue the order. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) is one of five independent bodies in Kerala that oversee almost 3,000 temples.
Over 1,200 temples, including Sabarimala Temple, are managed by TDB. Cochin Devaswom Board, Malabar Devaswom Board, Guruvayur Devaswom Board, and Koodalmanikyam Board are the other four boards. K Radhakrishnan, a minister in the present LDF administration, oversees the Devaswom Ministry, which the state government established to manage the business of the boards.
This move by Kerala’s communist government has met with nationwide criticism from the Hindus. The RSS leaders have accused the government of trying to appease Muslim voters.