1,400 arrested in connection with Sabarimala protests

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 26 Oct 2018 08:45:40


 

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM,


CRACKING the whip, police have arrested 1,400 people, who took part in demonstrations across Kerala against entry of women in the 10-50 age group into the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala.


State Police chief Loknath Behera on Thursday said that the arrests were made in the last two days and 440 cases registered in connection with violent incidents following the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of menstrual age to offer prayers at the hill temple. Kerala Governor P Sathasivam on Thursday met Union Home Police also released photographs of over 200 people suspected to have been involved in the protests at Sabarimala to prevent the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine last week. Special teams would be formed in all districts to identify the suspects whose photographs were released on Wednesday, police sources said.


Pathnamthitta district police chief T Narayanan said a list of 210 people, who are suspected to have taken part in the protests and their photographs have been been sent to Superintendents of Police of various districts for identification.  As part of steps to beef up security at the ‘Sannidhanam’ (temple complex), it has been decided to deploy 5,000 additional police personnel during the three month-long ‘mandalam-makaravillaku’ season starting on November 17.


The number of police personnel at Sannidhanam, Pamba and Nilakkal would also be increased and more CCTV cameras would be installed, a police press note said.

The temple had witnessed high drama recently with around a dozen women in the 10-50 age group being prevented by protesting devotees from entering it after the doors were opened for all women following the apex court verdict.
Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakkampally Surendran on Thursday claimed that effective police intervention had foiled the protesters’ bid to ‘desecrate’ the Ayyappa temple by spilling blood in the premises if women devotees in the 10-50 age group offered prayers.


He said the ‘conspiracy’ of the devotees was made clear by Ayyappa Dharma Sena president Rahul Easwar, who had said the faithful had plans to make the Lord Ayyappa shrine ‘impure’ by spilling blood on its premises, forcing its closure if young girls and women devotees tried to enter the shrine.


“This was a planned attempt to desecrate the holy temple, but effective police intervention defeated their efforts,” Surendran told. Easwar, who belongs to the Thazhamon family of Sabarimala tantris (priests), had said they had drawn up a contingency plan to force the closure of the temple in case young devotees in the “barred” age group managed to reach the shrine for darshan.


The Minister said this disclosure showed that there was a well conceived plan, similar to that followed by nations to attack their enemies and added that this attempt was not only seditious, but also against the interest of devotees.
Rahul Easwar had said the faithful were prepared to inflict knife injuries on themselves on the temple premises, which would have forced the priests to close the gates.


Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court on Thursday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation seeking barring of entry of women in the menstrual age group into the Sabarimala hill shrine till additional facilities were set up for them, and said the petitioner can approach the Supreme Court.
Rejecting the plea, a bench, comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and A K Jayasankaran Nambiar, observed that all constitutional institutions were bound to abide by the directions of the apex court.