Sabarimala row: Four women move Kerala HC seeking two days exclusively for women devotees at hill shrine

Seeking a solution to the massive protests that have prevented women devotees from entering the Sabarimala shrine so far, four women have moved Kerala High Court petitioning that two days in the puja season should set aside for women devotees. The women also sought police protection for devotees who will attempt to pray at the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

The court is yet to grant a hearing to the petition.

Representational image. Image courtesy: TK Devasia

Representational image. Firstpost/TK Devasia

The idea of setting aside specific days exclusively for women first came from the Kerala government. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that "we're holding discussion with concerned authorities that whether specific days can be set for women devotees alone," CNN-News18 reported.  The Ayyappa temple was opened on 16 November for the over-two-month-long pilgrimage season amid tension.  Though it is 55 days since the Supreme Court delivered its verdict, no women in the traditionally barred age group of  10-50 years has made it to the temple.

Meanwhile, in a related but separate development, Kerala government has filed an affidavit in Kerala High Court in connection with the incidents of violence outside Sabarimala Temple. The government in its reply regarding the alleged police excesses outside the shrine, 'There was no police provocation in Sabarimala. Only criminals who created issues in Sabarimala were arrested."

Following this, the Kerala High Court observed that the authorities cannot be blind to the vested interests creating disturbance in the area. "Some have vested interests in Sabarimala and we cannot be blind to it. The peaceful situation at the shrine should be restored and all should co-operate for it," the Kerala High Court observed while considering a petition for performing sayanaprathakshinam in Sabarimala

The court had, on Thurday said that the imposition of Section 144 was meant for smooth movement of pilgrims, and since going to the temple in groups and chanting keerthanam are part of the pilgrimage, the police cannot prevent devotees from doing that. It is up to the police to take action if there are protests, the court held.

The state government also made it clear in the court that the base camp for the pilgrims undertaking the trek to Sabarimala has been shifted to Nilakkal only due to the lack of facilities, following devastating floods in the state. The Left front government stated that the decision to move the base camp had no connection with the Supreme Court verdict allowing women aged between 10 and 50 years, entry into the shrine.

The Supreme Court had on 28 September allowed  women of all age groups to offer prayers at the shrine.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 23, 2018 15:00:31 IST

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