The Kerala Police has deployed nearly 2,300 police personnel in and around the hill shrine of Sabarimala as it reopens for devotees on Monday. Security has also been tightened in the nearby areas of Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal, and Elavunkal ahead of the Chithira Avittom Pooja.
The security arrangements are being monitored by ADGP Anil Kanth. IGP M R Ajith Kumar will be in-charge of Sannidhanam and Marakoottam and IGP Ashok Yadav in-charge of Pamba and Nilakkal.
In the wake of violent protests which eventuated last month, the state police decided to increase the deployment in and around the shrine, and twenty commando teams and over 100 women battalion have taken positions.
The Pathanamthitta district collector in Kerala has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in Sabarimala and nearby areas ahead of the Chithira Avittom Pooja.
The Sabarimala Karma Samiti- a group leading the protests against the entry of women into the temple, has drafted an open letter, directed to the managing editor, chief editor or editor of the media house, requesting them not to depute women journalists to cover the protest. It argued that deploying women reporters, even if it is to do their jobs, would only “aggravate” the situation.
“The whole issue is about the adamant stand of the State Government in forcibly bringing in young women aged between 10 and 50 years which is against the age-old traditions and customs of the Sabarimala Temple. Even the entry of women journalists from media belonging to this age group as part of their job is also likely to aggravate the situation. Therefore, we humbly request you to take a sympathetic approach to the feelings and aspirations of crores of devotees and kindly refrain from deputing women journalists of the above-mentioned age group to Sabarimala,” the letter read.
Accusing the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government (which has supported the SC verdict) of using brute force to hastily enforce the judgement before the top court can hear review and writ petitions on November 13, the letter stated that the devotees are “left with no choice but to continue their peaceful agitations.”
Sabarimala Protests started after the Supreme Court delivered a verdict, lifting the age-old custom of Sabarimala, which barred women of menstruating age from entering the temple. The legend has it that the temple deity Ayyappa followed celibacy all through his life. After the verdict, temple opened from October 17 to October 22, and several activists tried to enter the sanctum sanctorum but were stopped by thousands of devotees, who were trying to safeguard the age-old sanctity of the temple.
The protest by the devotees was followed by vicious man-hunt by Kerala government, who has made it clear that they will anyhow implement the Supreme Court’s verdict, no matter what means they have to employ. Kerala government, coming down heavily at the protestors has recorded 536 plus cases and arrested 3,719 suspects for engaging in violent protests at Pamba and Nilakkal.
The Sabarimala protest had taken an extremely crummy angle. Too many things had happened in a short period of time leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of the devotees. The communist party had faced wide criticism due to its highhandedness in dealing with the devotees of Lord Ayyappa. There was widespread resentment against the manner in which the state government conspired to desecrate the temple by awarding protection to activists.
The Lord Ayyappa temple’s three-month-long pilgrim season is commencing from November 17 and the state government, irrespective of all the resentment they faced, has reiterated that all devotees would be allowed to offer prayers at the shrine.