Sabarimala LATEST updates: After spending 13 hours at Cochin airport,social activist Trupti Desai informed the police that she will return to Pune following unrelenting protests.
The Tantri and Pandalam families have welcomed the Travancore Devaswom Board's decision to approach the Supreme Court with a plea to grant more time to implement the court verdict allowing women of all aged to enter the temple. The gates of the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala opened for devotees at 5pm for the two-month pilgrimage season. Meanwhile, reports said that social activist Trupti Desai was asked by the police to leave Kochi.
Trupti Desai said, "I will take a final decision after 6pm whether to return or to stay put at Cochin Airport depending on the law and order situation. Police has told me that the law and order situation is highly volatile. Even if I have to go back now I shall return in this Sabarimala season."
Cochin International Airport has informed the Union Home Ministry about the protests going on at the airport against the move by Bhumata Brigade chief Trupti Desai to go to Sabarimala for darshan. The company said that the mounting protest was affecting the functioning of the airport. CIAL MD VJ Kurien had earlier held discussions with the state police about resolving the issue. The police have refused to take her out of the airport. They have agreed to provide her support if she arranges a vehicle and find out an accommodation.
Strengthening his attempts to thwart Trupti Desai from entering Sabarimala, Rahul Easwar said, "Trupti Desai should go back. She will have to step on our chests and walk over us if she wants to enter Sabarimala Temple."
The Kerala Police has decided to register cases against at least 250 people sitting on protests outside the Cochin International Airport.
Travancore Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar said, "It is better to send Trupti Desai back." Agreeing with the board, BJP has also asked the Kerala government to send Trupti back to Maharashtra. "She is trying to purposely instigate a law and order situation in Kerala,"said Kerala BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai.
Speaking to reporters in Pampa, Travancore Devaswom Board President A Padmakumar said that"it is better to send Trupti Desai back."
The TDB also expressed its displeasure on the enhanced police restrictions at Sannidhanam. Where the police had banned overnight stay for devotees, the Board said the move will seriously hamper the 'ney abishekam' ritual, which can cause a lot of inconvenience to devotees.
Activist Trupti Desai at the Cochin International Airport. Image sourced by TK Devasia
The Board president rushed to Trivandrum from Pampa to meet the DGP and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan regarding the matter.
The Kerala police has said that no person will be allowed to stay in Sannidhanam after the temple's sanctum closes at 10 pm on Friday.
The police have said that all shops should be closed by 10 pm, and all food counters will close after 11 pm.
Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) authorities have stepped in to end the protests going at the domestic terminal against women’s entry at the Sabarimala temple.
Company managing director VJ Kurien informed police that the protests cannot continue indefinitely as it will affect the airport security. He said they will be forced to press Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel to remove the protestors if the police failed to disperse them.
The airport authorities are also talking to Bhumatha Brigade chief Trupti Desai, who has been stuck inside the airport since 4.45 am, to either leave the airport or return to Maharashtra, as she has crossed the time permitted to a passenger to remain inside the terminal.
The Kerala Police has beefed up security in light of the tension in the state, and has deployed 15,259 police personnel in four phases during the festive season.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran urged the BJP and the Congress to persuade Bhumatha Brigade chief Trupti Desai to drop her decision to enter the Sabarimala temple and return to Maharashtra. He said that the activist would listen to the leaders of the two parties since she was associated with them. Instead, they are trying to violate her freedom of movement.
In a fresh attack on Congress, the BJP's national IT in-charge Amit Malviya said that activist Trupti Desai had in 2012 contested the Pune Municipal Corporation elections on a Congress ticket.
He went on to accuse the Congress of "shedding every tradition of Hindu society, one step at a time."
The Kerala high court on Friday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of activist Rehana Fathima, who tried to enter the shrine when the temple opened in October for the first time since the Supreme Court verdict. The court further instructed the Kerala police to go ahead with necessary action against the activist, according to reports.
Refusing to back off despite repeated requests from devotees, Trupti Desai has said that she is not afraid of the death threats. She said that adequate should have been provided to her and the protests should have been stopped. "However, we will go their and see what level of security does the state government provide to us. Even if the state doesn't give us any security, we'll still go, but I can be attacked," Desai said.
Talking to media over phone, Trupti Desai said she would not go back to Maharashtra without a darshan at the Lord Ayyappa temple. However, BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje questioned her intent behind entering the temple."Where is ur 'irumudi kettu' (holy bundle)?? SC never told to break the traditions of Irumudi and 41 days of Vratham," Shobha asked.
Sabarimala devotees protesting outside Cochin International Airport have now resorted to checking private vehicles heading out from the airport and hotels in the city to ensure that Trupti Desai doesn't slip out of the airport with police's help.
The Kerala Police have sought the help of leaders of the Sangh Parivar and Hindu organisations to dissuade Maharashtra-based woman activist Trupti Desai from going to Sabarimala. Hindu Aikya Vedi general secretary RV Babu is coordinating the effort. However, Trupti has not been responding to his telephone calls.
Social activist Trupti Desai, who announced that she will attempt entering the Sabarimala shrine on Saturday, was stranded at Kochi airport almost four hours after she landed in Kerala. The protesters have blocked the exit of the airport, reports have said. The shrine opens on Friday for a two-month pilgrimage. The police's attempt to take Trupti out through the cargo area failed as the mob of protesters outside the airport swelled considerably.
Founder-president of the Bhumata Brigade, Desai, had also spearheaded the movement to ensure entry to women at the Shani Shignapur temple in Maharashtra.
When asked if she was scared for her life (for attempting to enter Sabarimala), Desai replied, “No, because this is a fight for equality. I’m an activist, but I’m also a devotee of God. I led the movement at Shani Shignapur because I’m a devotee. If God doesn’t discriminate among devotees, who are we to?”
An all-party meeting called by Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday ahead of the Sabarimala pilgrimage season starting on Friday failed to end the temple row, with the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP walking out.
After the meeting, Vijayan met representatives of the Pandalam royal family, the Sabarimala Tantri and the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB).
The Opposition accused Vijayan of sticking to his original stand that the government would abide by the apex court directive.
The all-party meeting was called after the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay its 28 September verdict which allowed all females, including those in the hitherto banned age group of 10-50, to pray at the temple.
The meeting ended when UDF and BJP leaders announced they had to walk out as Vijayan insisted that his government had to abide by the apex court ruling.
Both in his opening and closing remarks, Vijayan insisted that the law of the land was above issues of faith.
"The state government is not at all prejudiced. The Supreme Court on two occasions has made its point very clear. Hence the state government has to abide by the verdict," said Vijayan.
Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala told the media: "This was a golden opportunity for the Kerala government to see things in perspective as the temple opens tomorrow (Friday). But Vijayan was adamant that the temple tradition will have to be breached.
"We just cannot agree to anything that affects the emotions of the Sabarimala devotees. So we felt there was no point in continuing with the meeting," he said.
State BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai the meeting was a waste of time.
"The meeting was just dramatics. Its script was done at the CPM headquarters. The attitude of the government is now clear. It is to thrash the devotees who come for the pilgrimage. We will continue with our protests," said Pillai.
A fresh two-month festival season at Sabarimala starts on Friday at 5 pm. It ends on 20 January.
Speaking to the media, Pandalam royal family member KPS Varma said there was no change in their stand on the entry of women into the temple.
"The meeting was very cordial and the chief minister presented his views. We said we will have to talk about it in detail," said Varma.
Sabarimala tantri Kanteraru Rajeeveru said his plea to women was: "Please do not come to the temple."
Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra reached the temple town on Thursday morning to oversee the security arrangements. Around 5,000 police officials will be posted in and around the town.
According to the temple authorities, more than 800 women in the banned age group have already registered in the virtual Q online system to visit the temple.