Kerala to deploy woman cops at Sabarimala 

Kerala to deploy woman cops at Sabarimala 

A view of the Sabarimala temple. (PTI file pic)

Even as a political blame game continued to play out over the entry of women of all ages to the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple, the state government is going ahead with preparations. State police chief Loknath Behera said that in a first, woman police personnel would be deployed at the shrine this month.

The temple will be open between October 17 and 22 for monthly pujas. The annual pilgrimage season commences on November 16. “Work and faith are not connected. Women will be posted (at Sabarimala). Those who are interested in being posted there will be preferred and given training,” the DGP told reporters in Kochi on Friday. About 500 woman police personnel are expected to be posted this month. “We are a law enforcing agency, there’s no gender or religion when it comes to duty,” he said.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier said the state government would seek deployment of woman police personnel from other states at Sabarimala. A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had, on September 28, lifted the restriction on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years at the temple.

Politics continued to steer one of the narratives on the judgement. On Friday, the opposition Congress party’s Pathanamthitta unit organised a fasting protest, called to protect rituals and customs followed at the temple. The leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala asked the RSS and the CPM not to make Sabarimala a conflict zone. “If the RSS and BJP are sincere about this cause (protecting traditions of the temple), they should convince Narendra Modi to help promulgate an ordinance in this connection,” Chennithala said.

With protests against the judgement also directed at the CPM-led state government, over its “rushed” implementation of the verdict, the ruling party has come out defending its position. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the Congress and the BJP were driven by political motives and using the judgement as a front to attack the government which was bound to implement the apex court order.

“Women who want to make use of this opportunity can visit the temple; those who are not interested need not. The CPM will not intervene to escort women to the temple,” Balakrishnan wrote in a column in the CPM mouthpiece Deshabhimani on Friday.

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