The Kerala Police has 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 Lord Ayyappa 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, suspected to have taken part in the protests and their photographs have been been sent to Superintendents of Police of various districts for
Meanwhile, 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 protestors' 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 that 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 reporters.
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 that the faithful were prepared to inflict knife injuries on themselves on the temple premises, which would have forced the priests to close the gates.
The temple had witnessed high drama with around a dozen women in 10-50 age group being prevented from entering the temple by protesting devotees after the doors were opened for all women following the apex court verdict.
In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court on September 28 lifted a ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the famous Sabarimala temple in Kerala, holding this centuries-old Hindu religious practice is illegal and unconstitutional.
Here's a timeline of the 30-year-long struggle for women's entry to the Sabarimala temple:
A look at it:
1991: Kerala High Court upholds an age-old restriction on women of a certain age-group entering Sabarimala temple. A two-judge bench decrees (on April 5) that the prohibition by the Travancore Devaswom Board that administers the hill shrine does not violate either the Constitution or a pertinent 1965 Kerala law. Reason: the ban was for women (even before 1950, as per the testimony of the vintage temple’s chief priest) between the ages of 10 and 50, not as a class.
2006: A famed astrologer conducts a temple-centric assignment called ‘Devaprasnam’, and declares having found signs of a woman’s entry into the temple sometime ago.
2006: Soon, Kannada actress-politician Jayamala claims publicly that she had entered the precincts of Sabarimala in 1987 as a 28-year-old. Even touched the deity inside the sanctum sanctorum as part of a film shoot, she adds, stating this was done in connivance with the priest.
2006: The allegation led the Kerala government to probe the matter through its crime branch, but the case was later dropped.
2008: Kerala’s LDF government files an affidavit supporting a PIL filed by women lawyers questioning the ban on the entry of women in Sabarimala
2016: The India Young Lawyers Association files a PIL with the Supreme Court, contending that Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules 1965 that states “Women who are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship shall not be entitled to enter or offer worship in any place of public worship” violates constitutional guarantees of equality, non-discrimination and religious freedom.
November 2016: Kerala's Left Front government favours the entry of women of all age groups filing an affidavit to the effect.
July 2018: Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra, hearing the PIL, questions the temple's authority to deny entry to a particular section of women.
September 2018: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed entry of women of all ages into the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Kerala. Banning entry of women to shrine is gender discrimination, said CJI Dipak Misra.