Sabarimala protests: Kerala court grants bail to activist Rahul Easwar on last day of pilgrimage

Activist Rahul Easwar, who was arrested on 17 October for protesting against the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of women between 10 to 50 years into the Sabarimala temple, was granted bail by a local court on Monday.

He was charged by the Pamba Police in Kerala under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Section 143 (unlawful assembly) and 147 (rioting). The non-bailable charge against him was under Section 353 for stopping police personnel from doing their duty.

Easwar's bail plea was rejected on Sunday, as the court asked the police to file a report on the ongoing protests by Monday for it to consider any new bail applications. He had been participating in protests to stop women from entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala the day the shrine opened for Lord Ayyappa pilgrims.

After being taken into custody, Easwar had launched an indefinite hunger strike. CNN-News18 reported that he was subsequently admitted to the Government Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram. Once the bail order is out, he is likely to be shifted to another hospital.

Hundreds of devotees are camping at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam temple complex to prevent women of menstruating age from reaching the shrine, located in a dense forest.

Angry protesters have turned back nearly a dozen women attempting to visit the shrine of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala temple considered "naishtika brahmachari" (eternally celibate), since its doors opened for five-day prayers on 17 October. The temple closed on Monday and will reopen on 17 November.

The Travancore Devaswom Board, which is the custodian of the temple, will submit a detailed report about the events that unfolded in Pampa and Nilakkal over the last five days to the Supreme Court and the Kerala High Court.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide on Tuesday about when the review petitions, challenging its 8 October verdict, pending before it will be listed for hearing.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Oct 22, 2018 19:08:20 IST