Tight security in Sabarimala; temple to open on Monday

Tight security in Sabarimala; temple to open on Monday

The temple will be closed at 10 pm on Tuesday but would reopen for darshan from November 17 for the three-month-long annual pilgrim season. Reuters file photo

The Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple and surrounding areas were on Sunday brought under heavy security as police and the Pathanamthitta district administration prepared for the temple’s opening, for the Sree Chithira Atta Thirunal on Monday. The temple will open at 5 pm on Monday and close on Tuesday, at 10 pm.

About 2,300 police personnel have been deployed for the two days. Security arrangements are being led by ADGP (south zone) Anil Kanth. Ten SPs and ten DySPs are on duty while a 20-member commando team has also been deployed at the sannidhanam, Pampa and Nilakkal. Prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC are in force, till Tuesday night at Elavunkal, Nilakkal, Pampa and the sannidhanam. 

The heightened security comes in the wake of protests against the entry of women of menstruating age to the temple. On September 28, the Supreme Court had lifted restrictions on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years to the temple.

The BJP said it would resist attempts to restrict pilgrims’ movement in the name of security. Members of the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, former custodians of the temple, termed “unfortunate” circumstances that led to pilgrimage under heavy security cover. The Pathanamthitta district administration said no female pilgrim has, so far, sought permission to visit the hill shrine.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, while reiterating that female activists would not be allowed to use the temple as a platform to further their interests, said the government was committed to providing security to all female pilgrims visiting the shrine. No woman aged below 50 years has entered the sannidhanam, the deity’s abode, since the SC judgment. Between October 17 and 22, when the temple was open for monthly pujas, protesters thwarted attempts by about 15 women to enter the temple.

Early on Sunday, police stopped entry of media to the base camp and beyond but the restrictions were taken off later. By evening, media teams were stationed at Nilakkal. State Police Chief Loknath Behera said there was no ban on entry of journalists and the arrangement was in place only to ensure adequate security for media-persons. On October 17, media-persons including female reporters were attacked by protesters following clashes with the police, at Nilakkal. A team of woman police personnel aged above 50 years has also been deployed as part of the security measures.

The Sree Chithira Atta Thirunal marks the birth anniversary of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, erstwhile king of the royal family of Travancore.


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