As the standoff between thousands of devotees in Sabarimala and the government of Kerala continues, it was reported that another woman named SP Manju wanted to enter the shrine.
According to reports, while the woman SP Manju had arrived in Pamba on Saturday afternoon and tried to continue her journey further, the Kerala police had stated that they will not be able to provide her security unless a background check is run to verify that she was a devotee and not an ‘activist’. There were also reports that she has over 14 criminal cases pending against her.
Inspector general of police S Srijeeth had reportedly told media that seeing heavy rains and a huge turnout of devotees, the police will announce their decision on whether to provide her protection only after checking her background on Sunday.
However, many reports on social media have hinted at a new political conspiracy behind Manju claiming to be a devotee and seeking entry in the revered temple. Reports have stated that SP Manju, presently the 38-year-old president of the Kerala Dalit Mahila Federation, Chathannoor is, in fact, a Congress leader and she had reportedly even fought the election on a Congress ticket.
Now it is Congress’s turn to violate Sabarimala’s age-old tradition. #Hellbound Congress woman leader Manju trying to enter Ayyappa shrine. Tension continues to mount on the sacred mountain top. pic.twitter.com/AChH2enjeN
— J Nandakumar (@kumarnandaj) October 20, 2018
Manju who tried to trespass to #Sabarimala today was a Congi candidate in the last local body polls. @cpimspeak and @INCIndia must explain, if she’s a genuine devotee, how her house was provided with police protection much before she approached the police? #CPMAttacksSabarimala pic.twitter.com/cFLOUTUGie
— Ex-Comrade ☭ (@excomradekerala) October 20, 2018
Social media users are sharing local tv reports claiming that SP Manju’s full name is SP Manju Joseph and she was a Congress candidate in local body elections in the past. Manju’s name indeed features in the list of candidates for the 2010 local body elections and she is registered as an Indian National Congress candidate for Ndeumpana in Kolam district.
According to a report in Livemint, Manju was earlier a CPM and SFI activist. The report quotes P Ramabhadran, the president of Kerala Dalit Federation as saying that Manju had also contested the 2015 local body elections on a Congress ticket.
Many media reports are citing Manju as the ‘Dalit devotee’ seeking entry in the temple, social media users in support of protecting the tradition at Sabarimala are of the opinion that she is just another activist and her seeking entry to the temple has exposed Congress’ double standards as the party has earlier stated that it stands with the devotees of the temple who wish to protect the traditions.
Manju Joseph, young lady, who has come forward to have darshan at #Sabarimala, is said to be a Congress activist. Photo of her at Congress office with leaders are seen. Congress was saying that it stands with devotees in temple issue. Now they will have to explain a lot. pic.twitter.com/iwHuVWZ4fb
— KVS HARIDAS (@keveeyes) October 20, 2018
The Kerala government has reportedly ordered media persons to vacate the Sabarimala temple area and also Pamba. Citing reports of a possible attack on media persons, the government has ordered all media persons to be evicted from the shrine area and Pamba. So the latest status of SP Manju’s onward journey is not clear, though several social media users are claiming that she is on her way to the temple under police protection.
Sabarimala devotees had claimed that the media eviction is a tactic planned by the Kerala government to use force on the devotees and making a few women activists enter the temple.