Sabarimala protests: Congress-led opposition decides to intensify stir
With the BJP-RSS going hammer and tongs at the Pinarayi Vijayan government over the way the police is handling the Sabarimala pilgrimage season, the Congress-led United Democratic Front has decided to intensify its protest.
It demanded that the Chief Minister give up the Home portfolio.
The Sabarimala temple opened its doors at 5 p.m. on November 17 for two months.
The temple town has witnessed protests by Hindu groups since September 28 when the Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the temple that had banned menstruating females aged between 10 and 50.
The apex court on November 13 refused to stay that verdict and made it clear on Monday that they would not reconsider this decision as the case has been posted to be heard on January 22.
While the Kerala government is trying hard to see that the apex court verdict is implemented, the opposition parties are up in arms against violation of the temple tradition.
On Sunday night, the police arrested 72 pilgrims after they refused to leave the temple premises as they were singing Lord Ayyappa hymns well beyond the scheduled closure of the temple at 10 p.m.
The UDF meeting decided to first send a team led by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who will reach the temple town on Tuesday to assess the situation there.
Speaking to reporters here, leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala said that they will be forced to violate the prohibitory orders that are now in force in and around the temple town.
"The prohibitory orders should be withdrawn immediately as there is no need for it. Vijayan has made a complete mess of the Sabarimala pilgrimage season as the police are creating havoc and have turned the temple town into a terror zone. Vijayan has lost control and he should demit the Home portfolio," said Chennithala.
However, the court also pointed out that some of those who have come with the petition are also partly responsible for turning the temple town into a battleground.
The court advised political parties, police and the state government to work together to restore the temple town into a friendly pilgrimage place.
In a related development, three young women had to face the ire of protesters in front of the Press Club here when word spread that these women wished to go for Sabarimala darshan.
The women informed the media that they had wanted to go for a darshan and had undertaken the required penance for it, but had abandoned their plans for the moment due to tension prevailing in the temple town.
More than a hundred people, including a large number of women, had gathered in front of the Press Club, singing Lord Ayyappa hymns and protesting against the three women.
The police came to their rescue, forming a ring around them and helping them leave the venue safely.
State Minister for Devasom (Temples) Kadakampally Surendran said that the government will make all the arrangements for the three women if they wished to reach the temple town to worship Lord Ayyappa.
The Chief Minister reiterated the stand of the government and said that they will abide by the apex court's verdict.
"When the Kerala High Court ruled that all women cannot be given entry to the Sabarimala temple, the state government abided by that and today the apex court has ruled otherwise and the state government will abide by it. Those who are creating trouble at Sabarimala are not pilgrims," said Vijayan.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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