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Sabarimala Row: HC Raps Police Action, BJP Steps Up Protest

The day also saw three young women expressing their desire to visit the holy shrine, but in a "friendly atmosphere".

Sabarimala Row: HC Raps Police Action, BJP Steps Up Protest
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The Kerala High Court on Monday expressed its displeasure over the manner in which Ayyappa devotees were dealt with by the police at the Sabarimala "Sannidhanam" (temple complex) even as the activists of the BJP, Yuva Morcha and other right-wing outfits stepped up protests across Kerala. 

Given the tense situation, there was a dip in arrivals at the shrine which is visited by lakhs of pilgrims during the annual pilgrimage season.

As a war of words erupted over the police action, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan maintained that those who had been arrested were not Ayyappa devotees, but RSS workers camping at Sannidhanam (temple complex).

Asserting that his government was with the devotees, Vijayan said it was being targeted for trying to implement the Supreme Court order permitting entry of all women into the shrine.

Union minister Alphons Kannanthanam, on a visit to Nilackal, Pamba and Sannidhanam to take stock of the various facilities at the hill shrine, lashed out at the state goverment, saying the temple complex had been turned into a "war zone" and devotees were being treated as "dacoits".

Citing lack of basic amenities, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the temple, moved the Supreme Court seeking more time to implement its September 28 verdict allowing women of all age groups to pray at the hill shrine.

The TDB move came amid the stand-off over entry of women in the 10-50 age group, traditionally barred at the shrine.

The day also saw three young women expressing their desire to visit the holy shrine, but in a "friendly atmosphere".

Reshma Nishant and Anila from Kannur district and Dhanya from Kollam district said they had been observing the "vritham" (the mandatory austerities for visiting Sabarimala) for visiting the shrine.

Since the September 28 top court verdict, no women in the 10-50 age group has succeeded in offering prayers at the shrine, where the deity is "Naishtika Brahmachari" (perennial celebate).

About a dozen women, including social activist, Trupti Desai, had made futile efforts to go to Sabarimala. 

A division bench of the Kerala High court, comprising Justices P R Ramachandra Menon and N Anil Kumar, reprimanded
police for acting against the devotees and warned of stringent action if such incidents were repeated.

Sixty-nine people, picked up from the temple complex early Monday and subsequently arrested, were produced before a court here this evening and remanded to 14 days judicial custody.

The men, who had participated in the "nama japam" (clapping and chanting the name of Ayyappa) protest were
detained late last night from the temple complex after they refused to vacate the "nadapandal" (pathway leading to the
shrine) despite repeated pleas by the police. 

Protesting the police action, activists of the BJP, its youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and other right-wing outfits Monday escalated their protests across Kerala.

Meanwhile, five Yuva Morcha activists waved party flags and two of them tried to jump in front of the chief minister's convoy Monday morning.

Two of them have been arrested, Kozhikode district police chief S Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar told

(PTI)

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