Kerala: Thousands flock to Sabarimala amid heavy security
A woman resident of Alappuzha failed to enter the temple as the discussions with cops did not bear any fruit
Bengaluru: The gates to Kerala’s Sabarimala temple opened on Monday amid a heavy security cover in view of the protests against women’s entry into the shrine.
Anju, a resident of Alappuzha district, failed to enter the temple and returned home after discussions with the police did not bear any fruit.
When Anju arrived at Sabarimala accompanied by her family, she also faced stiff resistance from about 8,000 devotees. The temple’s age-old ban on women of menstruating age was recently overruled by the Supreme Court, leading to protests from conservative Hindu outfits, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The temple will remain open until Tuesday night.
The police have effectively turned the temple into a fortress. Around 3,000 personnel have been deployed, and the entry of devotees was restricted to the base camp—20km away from the temple site till noon. The move prompted the devotees to raise slogans. Subsequently, they were allowed entry.
The restrictions were enforced by the police as part of their crowd management strategy so that the protests don’t go out of control, and to restrict entry of right-wing trouble-makers. The police also installed mobile jammers, including one in front of head priest Kandararu Rajeevaru’s office, and restricted media access to the temple site, said local media reports.
BJP state head Sreedharan Pillai’s comments during an internal party meet on Sunday also sparked off protests. Pillai had said that Sabarimala “was a golden opportunity” for the party. The video of the speech, which shows that the BJP is trying to whip up the issue for political gains, has gone viral on the internet. He also said that the head priest, who had closed the sanctorum following a woman’s attempt to enter the temple last month, was acting on his behest. Pillai was unavailable for comment.
Kerala’s ruling Left Front and main opposition Congress took potshots at the BJP as the video surfaced. Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the Kerala chief of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), said it “exposes” the party’s political opportunism on Sabarimala.
“The odious politics and perfidious ways of the BJP stand exposed. Evidence has surfaced that party leaders connived to create trouble at Sabarimala. It must be noted that their state president himself was involved in the ruse. This is highly condemnable,” tweeted Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
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