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Tuesday 28 January 2020

Sabarimala reopens to find a jittery communist govt in Kerala

Kadakampally Surendran, Kerala Minister for Cooperation, Tourism and Devaswom, has made it clear Sabarimala is no place for a revolution

The CPI(M)-led LDF government of Kerala has said it will not take responsibility for the safety of female activists trying to enter the Sabarimala shrine to check whether the status quo of the 2018 judgment of Supreme Court still holds. The Sabarimala shrine reopened this evening for 41 days.

The doors of the temple opened for pilgrims at 5 PM. While men in hundreds flocked to the shrine of Lord Ayyappa, women of age group 10-50 years were conspicuous by their absence despite no reversal of the apex court’s verdict of last year. But in a few hours, up to 10 women were stopped from trying to enter the shrine.

Before the devotees arrived, the whole area was covered in tight security. The State government has deployed more than 10,000 policemen and women in the area. However, despite the deployment of cops, the LDF government of Kerala has so far decided not to take responsibility for the safety of woman activists.

“The temple is not the place for a revolution.” Kadakampally Surendran, Kerala Minister for Cooperation, Tourism and Devaswom, had said on Friday. He had said the State government would not provide police to any woman who might want to enter the sanctum sanctorum. The temple authorities were in no mood to invite trouble either.

However, the women who have been in the secularist movement for the past few years, one of whom is Pune-based women’s rights activist, Trupti Desai, are adamant they would test the waters. Whether or not the Kerala government provides her with security, she will visit the temple, she said.

Desai told reporters, “After 21 November, I will visit the shrine. I will request the Kerala government for security. Whether they provide security or not depends on them, but even if I am not given security, I will go for Sabarimala darshan.”

Last year, the Supreme Court had overturned the Kerala High Court order to let women of all ages enter the Sabarimala shrine, challenging a centuries-old tradition. Thousands of women thereafter, including Muslims, Christians, atheists — and people from regions of the country that did not have the foggiest clue about the sect — supposedly developed devotion for Lord Ayyappa overnight and thronged to the shrine to make their political point. Traditional devotees, including women belonging to the sect, protested. The Kerala government unleashed state power on the genuine pilgrims and the situation ended in a stalemate, with a few, freak women able to make it to the sanctum sanctorum.

With the police having pledged to protect the activists, many people were injured in the clash between the two sides. After those incidents, 64 petitions were filed in the court to review the case, which was moved to a larger bench of seven judges a few days ago.

After this development in the Supreme Court, the Kerala government refused to provide security to women activists who might try to barge in when the temple reopened.

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