Women devotees accuse police of not providing protection to trek to Sabarimala temple

Pamba: A group of women devotees, who in the wee hours of Sunday reached Pamba base camp to trek to Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, have claimed that the state police are not providing them with protection to trek to the hill shrine.

One of the devotees Selvi told ANI, “We are here since 3.30 am. Police have said that they will provide us with protection but now they are not providing us with protection to trek to the temple.”

Terming it unfortunate, another devotee said that people were not allowing women devotees to visit and take the blessings of Lord Ayyappa, adding that the women devotees have no intention to violate any law and order situation, but they need to be protected by the police.

However, the police at Pamba detained Lord Ayyappa devotees who were protesting against the entry of women devotees of menstrual age (10 to 50 years) to Sabarimala Temple.

Earlier in the day, Lord Ayyappa devotees from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha staged protests outside Kottayam railway station and other nearby areas of the temple to oppose the entry of these women into the Sabarimala Temple.

Keeping law and order situation in mind, the Pathanamthitta district magistrate has extended prohibitory orders till December 27. The order under Section 144 prohibits unlawful gathering and protest between Elavungal and Sannidhanam.

The decision has been taken on the basis of reports from the district police chief, executive magistrates and keeping in view the past incidents at the time of Chithra ‘atta’ festival and monthly ‘pooja’ in the holy shrine.

The women devotees were heard appealing to the protestors to allow them to visit the temple. One of the women said, “Please give us the way. We will visit the temple and return soon.” These women had already sought permission from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to visit the temple on Sunday.

The Sabarimala temple and surrounding areas witnessed a string of protests after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on entry of women inside the temple in September this year. Till now, no woman of the previously-forbidden age group has been able to enter the temple due to widespread protests.