Sabarimala Row: What Went Down After the Verdict
Sabarimala Row: What Went Down After the Verdict
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Sabarimala Row: What Went Down After the Verdict

The Kerala government on Monday, 12 November, filed a preliminary objection plea in the Kerala High Court stating that the entry of non-Hindus in Sabarimala temple cannot be restricted.

The government filed an affidavit in the court opposing the plea filed by BJP leader TG Mohandas, who sought that entry of non-Hindus be prohibited in the temple. The government’s plea stated, “ It is a historically accepted fact that Sabarimala is a secular temple where entry of devotees is not restricted on the ground of any caste or religion.”


  • The doors to Ayyappa temple were opened on Monday, 5 November, for the second time in three weeks for two-days
  • Kerala witnessed violent protests in October by people opposing the Supreme Court’s verdict
  • Multiple women had tried entering the shrine amid protests but all were forced to turn back by devotees
  • In a 4:1 verdict, the Supreme Court had granted women of all age groups entry into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple in September

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Right Wing Outfits Call for Hartal Starting Midnight

Right wing outfit, 'Antharashtriya Hindu Parishad' led by Pravin Togadia and the 'Sabarimala Samrakshana Samithi', an outfit of devotees, have called a 24-hour-long hartal starting midnight on Wednesday.

Non-Bailable Warrants Being Issued Against Those Accused of Attacks on Journalists

Non-bailable warrants are being issued against those behind attacks on journalists, CNN-News18 reported quoting Industries Minister EP Jayarajan.

NYT Journalist Stopped Halfway to Temple

The New York Times journalist Suhasini Raj, who was on her way to becoming the first woman to enter the Sabarimala shrine after the historic SC verdict, was forced to abandon her journey by protesters, after which she returned to Pampa police station, according to media reports.

“I was given an escort by Kerala police, they had done a fantastic job. During my trek, we encountered protesters who were against my presence. They pelted stones at us & Kerala police protected me,” she told News18.

Police told ANI that Suhasini Raj returned after seeing the crowd. “When she reached Marakoottam, she decided to come back after seeing the crowd. Police was ready to take her,” ANI quoted them as saying.

If she climbed the hill, she would be the first woman of the menstrual age group to visit the temple after the Supreme Court order.

Nationwide Bandh in Kerala Today, KSRTC Buses Stop Their Services

There is no movement of buses in Kerala as a 12-hour, statewide strike has been called by Sabarimala Protection Committee. Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) will not be conducting its services. All commercial markets will also be closed at Kozhikode due to the hartal, PTI reported.

Sentiments of Devotees Were Not Considered: RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday said that the Sabarimala verdict had not considered the premise of tradition that prohibits menstruating women from entering the temple.

“This tradition had been there for so long and was being followed. Those who filed petitions against it are not the ones who will go to temple. A large section of women follow this practice. Their sentiments were not considered,” he was quoted by ANI as saying.

Sabarimala Temple Head Priest Appeals to Maintain Custom

Acknowledging the violence committed since Wednesday, the head priest of Sabarimala Temple Kandararu Rajeevaru has requested for the custom of Sabarimala temple to be maintained.

“It's a dangerous situation. Most of the devotees are desperate after SC verdict. It's my request that please maintain system and custom of Sabarimala temple. I don't agree with violence. It hasn't been done by devotees but by others,” he was quoted by ANI as saying.

He also said that devotees want to follow the old custom to be followed.

“Supreme Court thinks only about the law of the land, not about the customs & traditions. So many devotees still want that the old custom should be maintained. I have only one opinion, which is based on the old custom and tradition.”

It's Our Job to Give Protection to All Pilgrims: IGP Thiruvananthapuram

Inspector General of Police (Thiruvananthapuram) said that the police will provide protection to all pilgrims. "We will put more manpower, and secure all routes," he told ANI.

Speaking about NYT journalist Suhasini Raj, who went back to Pamba from her journey to the shrine, the IGP said: "she was not forced to come back, she came back."

Pinarayi Vijayan Blames RSS for Uproar over Sabarimala

Through a tweet, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for the outbreak of violence at the temple.

Similarly, through a Facebook post, CM Vijayan said that the RSS was trying to spread terror.

"Sabarimala itself is the opposite of obstacles to a believer's journey, the RSS is spreading terror and trying to discourage them. These movements motivated by upper caste are intended to break the basic character of Sabarimala," he wrote.

BJP Kerala President Blames CPI(M) For Attacks on Women Journalists

President of BJP Kerala PS Sreedharan Pillai called the attacks on women journalists part of the plan designed by CPI(M).

“That is unfortunate, it was part of the plan designed by the CPI(M) people. They did this. 300 police personnel, who had not completed their training were taken there and this scene was created,” he was quoted by ANI as saying.

He also demanded a judicial probe into the circumstances that led to the violence and lathi-charge by police against protesters at Nilackal.

All-Kerala Brahmin Association Moves SC Seeking Review of Verdict

All-Kerala Brahmins Association on Thursday moved Supreme Court seeking a review of the verdict last month that allowed entry of women of all ages in the Sabarimala temple.

According to ANI, the plea states that the verdict suffers from several serious errors that have resulted in a “grave miscarriage of justice” for actual devotees of Ayyappa.

Kerala DGP Orders Cyber Cell to Book Those Spreading Religious Hatred on Social Media

The DGP of Kerala Police has ordered cyber cell to register cases against people who were spreading religious hatred through social media posts related to incidents of violence in Nilakkal and Pamba, ANI reported.

Hondu Activist Asked Followers to Go to Shrine Disguised as Pilgrims: Kerala Minister

Addressing the media, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said, "fascist forces were behind the violence and the government has no ulterior motive in implementing the Apex court order."

During the press meeting, Surendran released an audio tape purportedly by a Hindu activist asking his followers to come to Sabarimala by wearing the sacred bead chain and customary "irumudikkikettu" (sacred bundle containing ghee-filled coconuts they offer to the deity) to defy prohibitory orders, PTI reported.

He charged that this was an attempt by Sangh forces and BJP to mobilise people at Sannidhanam (temple complex) to create trouble.

Surendran alleged that BJP was adopting double standards on the Sabarimala issue.

Activist Rahul Easwar Jailed in Kottarakkara

Activist Rahul Easwar has been sent to police remand and is currently lodged in Kottarakkara sub jail, reported ANI. He was arrested on Wednesday from Nilakkal base camp & a non-bailable FIR was registered against him.

Ancient Practices Must be Preserved: HD Kumaraswamy

Karnataka Chief Minister (CM) HD Kumaraswamy on Thursday, 18 October, extended his support to the traditionalists in the issue of women entry into Sabarimala temple, reported The News Minute.

Whatever practices they have been doing for thousands of years should be preserved, violating these practices is creating a conflict.
HD Kumaraswamy

Kumarswamy, however, also stated that this was his personal opinion and not as the Chief Minister of Karnataka.

BJP Stands With Protesters: H Raja

BJP National Secretary and Kerala incharge H Raja has said that journalists cannot enter the temple in the name of journalism "like a lodge." He also asserted that BJP stands with the protestors.

Sabarimala is not a picnic station nor a lodge. You can’t enter in the name of journalists like a lodge. BJP will stand with the protesters.
H Raja

6 BJP Youth Activists Held at Nilakkal for Violating Sec 144

Six BJP youth wing activists were arrested at Nilackal on Thursday for staging a protest in violation of section 144 of the CrPC, which has been clamped in the area in view of violent demonstrations against allowing women in the menstruating age group inside the Sabarimala temple.

Police removed the slogan-shouting Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha members who launched a sit-in protest at Nilackal, the gateway to Sabarimala, soon after the BJP state President P S Sreedharan Pillai announced in Thiruvananthapuram BJYM activists would violate section 144 in areas including Nilackal.

While being forcibly bundled into a police vehicle, state BJYM president Prakash Babu said not a single woman in the age group of 10 and 50 would be allowed to climb the hills which houses the temple.

Police said strong action would be taken against those disrupting the law and order.

Kerala CM Blames RSS for Sabarimala Violence

A day after devotees opposing entry of women into Sabarimala Temple clashed with the police at Nilackal, the Kerala government on Thursday charged that the RSS was trying to "destroy" the Lord Ayyappa shrine by "unleashing terror".

RSS is trying to destroy the Lord Ayyappa shrine by unleashing terror. The final objective of the Sangh Parivar forces is to establish the upper caste dominance by destroying the acceptance enjoyed by all sections of the society at the shrine.
Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister

Blocking devotees from proceeding to the Ayyappa Temple and forcing them to return by creating terror were part of the RSS-Sangh Parivar's move to "destroy" Sabarimala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan charged in a Facebook post.

The chief minister claimed that right wing forces had always been disturbed due to the unique nature of Sabarimala temple where devotees, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, offer worship.

Activist Trupti Desai Detained in Pune

Activist Trupti Desai was on Thursday morning detained by police, ANI reported.

She had written to Superintendent of Police, Ahmednagar yesterday demanding to meet PM Modi to discuss the Sabarimala temple issue ahead of his Shirdi visit on 19 October. She had also threatened to stop his convoy if he didn’t meet her.

“Police force was already here today morning when we were about to leave for Shirdi. It is wrong. It is our Constitutional right to protest. We are being stopped at home only. It is an attempt to suppress our voice through Modi ji.”
Trupti Desai

Protests Continue in Sannidhanam

Protests continued for the third day in Sannidhanam, opposing the entry of women of all age groups into the temple.

Female Activist, Telangana Based Woman Journalist Trek to Sabarimala

In a second attempt by a woman journalist to enter the Sabarimala sanctum, Andhra and Telangana based news anchor Kavitha Jakkala is on her way to the temple Sannithanam, surrounded by heavy police protection, The News Minute reported.

Kavitha, 24, a news anchor with Mojo TV is being taken to the sanctum under the police protection of Inspector General Sreejith. Another woman, identified as Rehna Fathima from Ernakulam, also joined Kavitha and her three-member crew.

Standoff Between Protesters and Police at Temple Entry Point

A standoff between the police and protesters ensued Friday over the entry of two women into the temple, with the latter blocking the police’s path. The Inspector General of police told protesters that police are bound to enforce law.

“We are not here to hurt your sentiments,” the IG said while trying to appeal for calm.

“Police will not create any issue in Sabarimala and we don’t want a confrontation with you devotees. We are only following the law. I will be discussing with the higher authorities and brief them on the situation.”
Inspector General S Sreejith, to devotees

Kerala Government Asks Two Women to Return

The Kerala government has asked the two women who had almost reached the sanctum sanctorum to return, making it it clear that it was not right to hurt the sentiments of devotees and insisted that the women should not be allowed to enter, as they are activists and not devotees, The News Minute reported.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampalli Surendran informed the Director General of Police that the temple was not a place for activism and that it would be irresponsible for the police team to take the women further.

“Two activists have reached near the temple, it is not possible for us to identify each person. The government’s interest is to protect the interests of the devotees. Sabarimala is not a place for you to prove the power of your activism. I plead to all activists to not misuse the judgment like this. If true devotees come, the government is committed to take them to the sannidhanam. The government is not responsible for providing security to activists.”
Kadakampalli Surendran as quoted by The News Minute

Protestors Attack Rehna Fathima's Home in Kochi

Activist Rehna Fathima’s house was ransacked by protestors in Kochi’s Panampilly Nagar, News18 reported. She was one of the two women who reached the temple site.

Rahul Easwar's Bail Hearing to Take Place on 20 October

The hearing for the bail application of activist Rahul Easwar will take place on Saturday, 20 October before Pathanamthitta Judicial first class Magistrate 1, ANI reported.

Easwar was arrested on 17 October from Nilakkal base camp.

Temple Priests Join Protests, Standoff Continues

Some of the temple priests joined the protest against the two women near the temple site. The temple priests are protesting right below the 18 steps leading to the Sannidhanam. The priests have said that the protest will continue til the women retreat and turn back.

The Kerala Governor has sought a an update from Kerala Police on the matter.

Women Enroute Temple Asked to Wait in Office While Course of Action is Decided

Journalist Kavitha Jakkala of Mojo TV and activist Rehana Fatima have been asked to move to an office in Pathanamthitta where they will meet Inspector General S Sreejith.

One of the women seems determined to go ahead and enter the temple, according to The News Minute.

Women Ready to Return After Threat of Temple Shutdown

Both the journalist and activist were ready to go back, IG Sreejith told The News Minute, adding that the government's decision had been conveyed to the women.

IG Sreejith had been informed by the priest that if the women came near Sannidhanam, he would close the temple. The daily rituals had been halted as well.

“We have decided to lock the temple and handover the keys & leave. I stand with the devotees. I do not have any other option.” 
Kandararu Rajeevaru, head priest, as quoted by ANI

The Pandalam Palace Trust also wrote to the executive officer in Sabarimala, asking for the temple to be shut down if their is any breach in the rituals.

Jalakkal and Rehana Begin Their Descent

With heavy police protection, the two women have begun their descent from the hill. "The police told us that there is no way we can enter and that's why we are going back," Rehana was quoted by The News Minute as saying.

Journalist Kavitha told CNN-News18 that she would come back again after some days.

IG Express Helplessness After Women Asked to Turn Back

Inspector General S Sreejith expressed his helplessness over the situation, adding that it would have been a ritualistic disaster if the temple was shutdown over the entry of the two women.

“We had brought them till temple premises but tantri and priest refused to open temple for them. While we were waiting, but tantri informed me that if we attempt to take the women ahead they would close the temple.”
S Sreejith as quoted by ANI

Another Woman Expresses Desire to Enter Sabarimala, Denied Police Protection

A 46-year-old woman named Mary Sweety from Kazhakkoottam expressed her desire to climb the hill and see Ayyappa just once on the holy day of Vidyaarambham.

However, police have denied protection to her, forcing her to head back.

"It was the cops' duty to take me, I am going back because I'm told there was no way to go forward," she told media persons.

(The News Minute)

Congress Attacks Kerala Government, Says Police Fuelled Violence

Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala launched an attack on the Kerala government and state police.

“We met the Governor and explained to him the current situation. Not only Hindus but people from all religions are going there. Everyone is worried. The woman activist (Rehana Fatima) was given a police uniform. It was wrong.”

He added that the Kerala government was inept in handing the situation.

“Sabarimala is not a tourist spot, only devotees go there. Right now what Kerala police is doing is wrong. Had our government been in power we would’ve handled the situation better. We would’ve talked to devotees, there would’ve been no violence.”

Journalist Kavitha Jakkala, activist Rehana Fatima Return to Pamba

Journalist Kavitha Jakkala and activist Rehana Fatima have been escorted back to Pamba by the police. The journalist thanked the police for their protection.

Activist Rehana Fatima, however, said it was people, not devotees who did not wish for them to enter the temple.

“People, not the devotees, who want to disrupt peace didn’t allow us to enter. I want to know what was the reason. Tell me, in which way one needs to be a devotee. You tell me that first and then I will tell you if I’m a devotee or not.”

MHA Advisory from 16 October Warned Kerala Government of Clashes

Ministry of Home Affairs in an advisory from 16 October warned the Kerala government about Hindu outfits and activists holding protests against the Supreme Court order on Sabarimala, and had advised the state to take precautionary measures to maintain the law and order situation.

Woman Journalist Getting Hurled Up Is Similar To Babri Masjid's Demolition: Yechury

Speaking on Sabarimala row, Secretary General of the Communist Party of India, Sitaram Yechury said that in the incidents where women reporters were roughed up, are very similar to the time of the Babri Masjid’s demolition.

“You have the heads of the volunteers wearing saffron bands, the same dress you found there then,”

Heavy Security Deployed at Nilakkal

Heavy security arrangements have been put in place at Nilakkal as devotees thronged to Sannidhanam to offer prayers early on Saturday, ANI reported.

Tantri, TDB Disagree Over Emergency Shutdown of Sabarimala

Travancore Devasom Board (TDB) member KP Shankara Das on Saturday disagreed with the Sabarimala Tantri family's threat to close the temple doors if any woman within the barred age group arrive for darshan.

"It's the Supreme Court that has directed that women within the age group of 10 to 50 will be allowed within the shrine's sanctum sanctorum. Hence all are duty bound to adhere to it," the former legislator said.


Sabarimala is South India's Ayodhya: VHP Spokesperson

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) spokesperson Vinod Bansal said that the Sabarimala Temple is South India's Ayodhya.

Bansal also said that it was "good" that Sitaram Yechury had compared Sabarimala to Ayodhya.

“The way sanctity, religious belief and the serenity of Sabarimala have been attacked shows the reality of the CPM. The CPM remains blind and ignorant on Kerala nun suffering, the way non-Hindus are appointed in Travancore Devaswom Board. I appreciate and thank the people who are protesting and saving the sanctity of the temple.”
Vinod Bansal, VHP Spokesperson to ANI

Protests Erupt Over Rumours of TN Woman Climbing Sabarimala Hill

A massive protest by devotees of Lord Ayyappa broke out near the Sabarimala Sannidhanam on Saturday following rumours that a woman from Tamil Nadu below 50 years of age climbed the hills to offer prayers to the presiding deity.

The situation turned tense in the area, where section 144 was clamped, as devotees gathered in large numbers at 'Valiya Nadapandhal' to protest against the woman's entry into the temple.


Two Women Stopped by Protestors

Two women, who were on their way to Sabarimala Temple, have been brought to police control room in Pamba after they were stopped by protesters from going ahead.

Speaking to ANI, Kerala IG said, “They were part of a pilgrimage group from Andhra. They had been to other temples also and didn't know of special rituals in Sabarimala Temple.”

Members of Hindu Makkal Katchi Protest in Chennai

Members of Hindu Makkal Katchi staged a protest before Anna Nagar Ayyappa Temple in Chennai against women who attempted to visit Sabarimala Temple.

“They are not clean. They spoiled the sanctity of celibacy of Lord Ayyappa. They’re not devotees. They’ve come for publicity.”

Sensitivities Relating to Religious Matter Shouldn't be Avoided: Congress Leader

Speaking to ANI, Congress leader A Kumar said, “Sentiment in that area has prevented SC's verdict to be implemented. It's true that the decision needs to be enforced but it's equally true that in a democracy overwhelming sensitivities relating to religious matters can't and shouldn't be avoided.”

Activist Rahul Easwar's Bail Plea Extended, on Indefinite Fast in Prison

Activist and head of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena, Rahul Easwar, had the decision on his bail plea extended on Saturday, 20 October by the Pathanamthitta first class magistrate. His bail plea is scheduled to be considered again on Monday.

On Friday, Rahul Easwar’s wife, Deepa Rahul Easwar, said on social media that Rahul had been wrongly charged with the non-bailable offence of obstructing police officers from doing their duty. She claimed that Rahul was arrested at Sannidhanam, but that the non-bailable offence he was charged with — obstructing police from accompanying a woman named Madhavi up to the temple — occurred at Marakkootam.

She also claimed that he was arrested in a very dubious and secretive manner, with police carrying him away from the site of his arrest under a tarpaulin sheet in a tractor. Furthermore, she mentioned that Rahul Easwar was on an indefinite hunger strike that he was carrying out inside the jail.

(The News Minute)

Media Persons Asked to Leave Pamba After Threat of ' Targeted Attack'

Media persons in and around Sannidhanam and Pamba were to vacate the area by the police on Monday, as the latter had inputs of a targeted attack being planned on the media, ANI reported.

SC to Decide 23 Oct Hearing of Review Petitions Against Sabarimala

The Supreme Court will decide the date of hearing review and writ petitions against the Sabarimala judgment on 23 October, ANI reported.

There are 19 review petitions against the judgment.

SC To Hear Review Petitions Against Sabarimala Verdict on 13 November

Supreme Court will hear the petitions seeking a review of the verdict that allowed entry of women of all ages in Sabarimala temple on 13 November.

Kerala CM Blames RSS for Violence Over Sabarimala

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday blamed the RSS for the violence that took place against the Supreme Court verdict and said that they turned the temple into a battleground.

“Even before the Sabarimala temple opened this month, the Sangh Parivar made all efforts to make Sabarimala into a battleground. Those who wanted to protest had even erected pandals, the government did not oppose even that. But the protests took new dimensions,” he said.

“Sangh Parivar has been claiming that Ayyappa devotees were against the women. That is not true. If that is true then how did attacks happen simultaneously on the houses of these women while they were still standing near the temple? There is a conspiracy behind this,” he added.

Right to Pray Doesn't Mean Right to Desecrate: Smriti Irani

Amid protests against the Supreme Court order opening the Sabarimala temple in Kerala to women of all ages, Union minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday, 23 October, said the right to pray did not mean the right to desecrate.

"I am nobody to speak against the Supreme Court verdict as I am a serving cabinet minister. But just plain common sense is that would you carry a napkin seeped with menstrual blood and walk into a friend's house? You would not...I have the right to pray, but no right to desecrate,” she said, PTI reported.

Kerala HC Seeks Govt's Direction on Petition Filed by Women for Police Protection

As protests took an ugly turn on the day the Sabarimala temple was opened after the Supreme Court allowed the entry of women of menstruating age into the temple, the Kerala High Court, on Wednesday sought direction from the state government on a petition filed by four women who were seeking police protection for entering the Temple.

Kerala Police Issue Look Out Notice for Those Who Instigated Violence

The Kerala Police has issued look out notice for 210 people who it suspects were involved in instigating violence in Nilakkal, Pamba and Sabarimala.

The notice has been circulated among all district police chiefs, reported ANI.

Women Devotees Move HC for Police Security to Worship at Sabarimala

Four women in the menstrual age group have approached the Kerala High Court seeking a direction to the state government to provide them security to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, reported PTI.

When the petition filed by A K Maya Krishnan (37), Rekha S (45), Jalajamol P S (35), and Jayamol P S (28) came up Wednesday, a division bench of justices P R Ramachandra Menon and Devan Ramachandran directed the state government to spell out its stand on the matter.

In their petition, the women, including two lawyers, submitted that despite a judgement of the Supreme Court permitting entry of all women into the hill shrine, the hopes of the female devotees of Lord Ayyappa are still in limbo.

The bench has posted the plea for hearing to Monday.

Rahul Easwer's Back Up Plan: Will Cut Hands & Shed Blood to Keep Women Out

"There were about 20 people, ready to make a cut on their hands and shed blood in Sabarimala, so that the temple would then have to be closed", said Ayyappa Dharma Sena president Rahul Easwar at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram.

Accordng to a TNM report, after being released on bail, following his arrest several days ago, Rahul addressed the media where he shared a back-up plan to ensure the temple was closed, if women between the ages of 10 and 50 were close to making an entry.

Police Launch a Crackdown, Arrest 1,400 Protesters

A day after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired a high-level meeting with senior police officials here, authorities on Thursday, 25 October, launched a crackdown on protesters who prevented women in the 10-50 age group from entering the Sabarimala temple.

Police have arrested over 1,400 people across the state, registering 258 cases against 2,000 people for defying an order of the Supreme Court that had allowed women of all ages to visit the temple.

The police arrested people from Pathanamthitta - the district where the temple is located, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Ernakulam and elsewhere.


SC To Hear Review on Sabarimala Case on 13 Nov

The Supreme Court, on 31 October refused to give an early hearing to review the petitions on the Sabarimala verdict.
The Supreme Court, on 31 October refused to give an early hearing to review the petitions on the Sabarimala verdict.
(Phot: Reuters)

Supreme Court on Wednesday, 31 October refused to give an early hearing to review petitions on the matter of entry women in Sabarimala Temple.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that temple will open for 24 hours on 5 November and 6 November adding that the apex court has already fixed the matter for hearing after 11 November.

BJP Stages Fast On Sabarimala Issue, Announces Rath Yatra From 8-13 Nov

The BJP intensified its agitation over the Sabarimala issue by staging a day-long fast on 30 October.

The party also announced that it would take out a 'Rath Yatra' from Kasaragod to Pathnamthitta district, where the Sabarimala temple is located, from 8-13 November to "save the customs and traditions" of the hill shrine.

Sabarimala Shrine to Re-open on Monday Amid Protests

Sabarimala temple.
Sabarimala temple.
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

With the Lord Ayyappa shrine opening for a day on Monday, 5 November, the temple town has been virtually taken over by some 2,300 Kerala Police personnel after protests marred the last pilgrimage season.

Police said 2,300 personnel, including a 20-member commando team and 100 women, have been deployed to ensure smooth 'darshan' and security of devotees, a move that came in for criticism from the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, the BJP and the Congress for such fortification.

If necessary, around 30 women police personnel in the rank of circle inspector and sub inspector and above the age of 50 would be deployed at 'Sannidhanam' (temple complex) for security, they said.

Police confirmed that they have not received a request from any woman in the age group of 10-50 for security assistance in order to visit the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala temple.

(Source: IANS and PTI)

Also Read : Protesters Urge Media to Not Send Women Journalists to Sabarimala

Devotees Begin to Gather at Nilakkal Base Camp

Devotees have started gathering at Nilakkal base camp as the Sabarimala Temple is set to open on 5 November. The temple will open in the evening and will be closed after the 'Athazha puja' on 6 November.

Speaking to ANI, Nilakkal base camp in-charge Manjunath H says, “There is adequate police deployment here. We are not restricting the movement of devotees.”

Devotees Begin Trek Towards Hill Shrine

Even as security measures tighten amid protests, Sabarimala devotees have begun their trek towards the hill shrine from the base camp at Nilakkal, reported ANI.

The temple will close on Tuesday, 6 November, evening after the special ‘Athazha puja’, which will last for a little over 24 hours.

'Tantri has Faith in BJP': State President Sreedharan Pillai

BJP state president Sreedharan Pillai at an event said the Tantri (head priest) of Sabarimala had consulted him before announcing that he will close the temple if women enter.

"We had a long discussion on it. He was very agitated. I told him you are not alone, and there will not be any contempt of court. He told me that my word was enough and he will announce his decision." Pillai added that this is proof that the Tantris have faith in the BJP.

He added that the Sabarimala issue is a golden opportunity for the BJP.

Kerala HC Says Media, Devotees Should Not be Blocked at Sabarimala

The Kerala High Court observed that the devotees and media should not be blocked at the Sabarimala temple, ordering a departmental inquiry into the policemen who allegedly damaged vehicles.

It further added that the government should not interfere in day-to-day activities of the temple.

Jammers Installed Near Sabarimala Temple

The Kerala Police on Monday, 5 November, installed mobile jammers near the Sabarimala temple to prevent the tantri (priest) and other shrine officials from interacting with the media and to dissuade live visuals.

The move came as the state police contingent deployed some 2,300 personnel for temple security ahead of the special one-day pilgrimage that will start on Monday, 5 November, at 5 pm and end on Tuesday, 6 November, 10 pm.

After 8 am many devotees were seen protesting, shouting slogans as the police stopped them for checks en route to Sabarimala. Private vehicles carrying pilgrims were stopped.

Sabarimala Temple Gates Open Amid Protests & Heavy Security

A thick security has taken over Sabarimala as the gates of the Lord Ayyappa temple opened on Monday, 5 November, for a special puja. The puja started at 5 pm and will end on Tuesday, 6 November, 10 pm.

Following the opening of the gates, security in-charge of Sabarimala, IG Ajith Kumar told ANI that adequate security arrangements for facilitating darshan for all devotees have been taken.

“We have various threats in this area – taking into consideration various threat perceptions, we’ve provided security arrangements for everyone,” said Kumar.

30-Year-Old Woman Seeks to Enter Sabarimala Hill

A 30-year-old woman Anju had arrived at Pamba, along with her husband and two children, to visit Sabarimala Temple.

They've been taken to Pamba police station.

Superintendent of Police Rahul R Nair said that the woman has not asked for police protection yet, assuring she will receive protection if she asks for one.

HC Raps Kerala Govt, Says It Has No Right To Interfere In Affairs Of Shrine

Coming down heavily on the state government, the Kerala high court on Monday, 5 November, made it clear that it had no right to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala and its role was confined to maintaining law and order in the area.

A plea was filed by Ramesh of Mylapore in Tamil Nadu, seeking a direction from the court that the government and the chief minister had no authority to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the shrine.

It could not interfere with the affairs of the temple management and dictate to the Devaswom (temple administration) Board, a division bench comprising justices PR Ramachandra Menon and N Anilkumar said.

'Didn't Choose Female Cops On Basis Of Their Age': Sabarimala Security In-Charge

On being asked why 15 female police personnel who are all 50 years and above in age, were deployed to Sabarimala, security in-charge of Sabarimala, IG Ajith Kumar responded to ANI that all female inspectors were brought on the basis of eligibility and not of their age.

Prior to SC’s verdict on Sabarimala temple, women age between 10 to 50 were barred to enter the temple.

Kumar also added that for the first time, 15 women cops were deployed in Sabarimala Temple premises and the cops also offered prayers.

30-Yr-Old Woman Agrees to Return Home After Being Told About Security Risks

A 30-year-old woman named Anju had arrived at Pamba base camp, along with her husband and two children, on Monday to visit the Sabarimala Temple.

However, according to the police stationed at the site, the woman – coming from Alappuzha – has agreed to return home after they were intimated about the security risks, reported The Indian Express.

“When we told the family of the security risks, the woman was able to understand. She even agreed that she would return home. But her husband was insistent that the family climb the hill and visit the temple. For some reason, he was stubborn that they visit the temple.”
Police officer, as quoted by The Indian Express

Protests Erupt Over Age of Woman Who Entered Temple

On Tuesday, 6 November morning, a woman Lalitha entered the temple, who people thought was of menstrual age. However, as protests erupted, police found her age to be 52. She was then escorted to the Sannidhaman (deity). Lalitha had come along with her family.

Amrita TV cameraman Biju was also injured during the protests

Actor Parvathy Says She Is All For Women's Entry In Temple

Actor Parvathy on Sunday, 4 November, told CNN-News18 in an interview that she is "definitely with the verdict" when asked about Sabarimala temple women’s entry.

However, she said that having a "logical" conversation with some of the women as she talked about patriarchy among women. She said, as quoted by The News Minute, "...when you really strip down religion and the patriarchy ingrained in religion, you have to peel a lot of layers before you can have a logical conversation with these women."

Crowd Chants 'Ayyappa Saranam' As They Protested

Clapping and chanting 'Ayyappa saranam', a huge crowd of devotees surrounded Lalitha Ravi (52), suspecting her to be of menstrual age, but police intervened and escorted her out.

The woman showed her Aadhaar card to them to prove she did not belong to the "traditionally barred" age group of 10-50 years though the Supreme Court has allowed entry of girls and women of all age groups.

Police later escorted her to the shrine to offer prayers along with her other women relatives.

Hailing from Thrissur, Lalitha came to the hill temple, which opened this morning, with 19 relatives, including women, for her grandson's 'chorunnu' (rice giving ceremony). Police at sannidhanam said a case has been registered against 200 "identifiable" persons in connection with the incident, based on her complaint.

(Source: PTI)

RSS Leader Breaks Temple Tradition

Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader, Valsan Thillankeri sparked a controversy following violation of a key tradition of Sabarimala temple by climbing 18 sacred steps in the shrine without carrying the customary 'Irumudi Kettu' on his head.

Thillankeri had been camping at the complex of the shrine since Monday, 5 November. He was pacifying the protesters when the incident took place.

Read the full story here

Sabarimala Shrine Closes Doors

The doors to the Lord Ayyappa temple closed Tuesday night after a two-day-long special puja, but no girl or woman pilgrim in the traditionally barred age group of 10-50 could offer prayers at the shrine.

Melshanthi (chief priest) Unnikrishnan Namboothiri closed the portals of the sanctum sanctorum after rendering the 'Harivarasanam', the lullaby for Lord Ayyappa, the celibate deity.

Kerala Police Launch Online Crowd Management Portal, Over 3 Lakh Register

Over three lakh people, including 539 women in the age group between 10-50 years, have registered on the online portal started by Kerala police for implementing Digitised Crowd Management System at the Sabarimala temple.


550 Women of Barred Age Group Register Online For Prayers

A total of 550 women from the banned age group of 10 to 50 years have registered online for prayers at the Sabarimala temple during the upcoming festival season beginning on 16 November, NDTV reported.

The online registration was designed and developed by the police To regulate and streamline the devotees following unrest over the SC verdict to allow entry of menstruating women into the temple.

Kerala Govt Files Preliminary Objection Plea

Kerala government has opposed a plea seeking ban on entry of non-Hindus in Sabarimala Temple and stated before the Kerala High Court that temple is "secular" and said that entry of devotees based on their religion cannot be prohibited.

According to LiveLaw, State Attorney KV Sohan filed the preliminary objection on Monday, 12 November, which stated, "It is a historically accepted fact that Sabarimala is a secular temple where entry of devotees is not restricted on the ground of any caste or religion."

SC to Hear 4 Writ Petition In Open Court

The Supreme Court’s three-judge bench will hear four writ petition in Sabarimala case on Tuesday, 13 November, in an open court. A five-judge bench will then hear review petitions against the judgment, which allowed the entry of women into the temple.

(Source: News18)

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