No police protection for activist visiting Sabarimala

Sabarimala temple. (DH Photo)

Controversial activist Rehana Fathima has been refused security cover by police to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala in line with the Kerala government's stand it would not provide protection to women in traditionally barred age group unless they get a court order. Fathima, in her 30s, had made an attempt to enter the hill shrine in October last year with police protection but was forced to return in the wake of massive protests by devotees.

This year she filed an application and approached the top officials of the police commissionerate on Saturday seeking protection for her to proceed to the hill shrine where women in the 10-50 age group are barred.

Though the Supreme Court had lifted the traditional ban last year, it has recently decided to refer review pleas against its judgement to a larger bench following which the state government has adopted a cautious approach and made it clear Sabarimala was not a place for activism. The policy of the government on the issue is very clear. The matter is with the Supreme Court. Since the court itself is reviewing its order permitting entry of women in the age group of 10 and 50 in the shrine, it is not possible for the police to provide protection to her at this stage, an official told PTI here on Sunday.

Police could provide protection if she secured an order from the apex court in this regard, the official said, referring to the state governments stand on the matter. It had been clearly stated that the state was under no legal compulsion to shield womens rights campaigners who endeavoured to enter Sabarimala, the official added.

Fathima, a model-cum-activist, was arrested last year on charges of attempting to disrupt public peace by posting religiously controversial comments about Ayyappa devotees and Sabarimala on social media. She had been part of "Kiss of Love" movement here in 2014 against alleged moral policing. 

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