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Sabarimala opens amid protests over women's entry; security tighten

Saima Siddiqui

Saima SiddiquiBy Saima Siddiqui

Published on 17 Oct 2018 5:22 AM GMT

Sabarimala opens today amid protests over womens entry; security tighten
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Mumbai: Sabarimala temple will open its gates for its five-days long monthly pooja today at 5pm amid many protests to protect and uphold the century old temple tradition.

Many bodies of devotees, political outfits and Hindu organisations are all set to protest against Supreme Court's verdict (September 28, 2018) to allow women of all ages to enter Sabarimala temple.

ALSO READ: Sabarimala reopens: Protesters, Suicide squad to block women’s entry

Protesters from more than 30 organisations are up to make their strength felt by organising a protest at Nilakkal, the base camp of Sabarimala hill shrine, and Pampa, the base of the hill from where the devotees trek to the temple.

Early on Wednesday, police officers chased away a group of protesters who were holding fort at Nilakkal and were stopping and checking vehicles, for any women in the age group between 10 and 50.

Inspector General of Police Manoj Abraham, who is in charge of security, told the media at Nilakkal that the police is fully geared to face any eventualities.

"By now itself we have registered three cases and seven people have been arrested. We are unable to say if there would be any issues... None will be stopped anywhere and those who want to come can come," said Abraham.

Previously, according to the local age old custom women, between the ages of 10 and 50 menstruating age group, were prohibited to enter temple premises devoted to Lord Ayyappa, who, according to religious texts, has taken the oath of celibacy.

To uphold the custom Shiv Sena and the Ayyappa Dharma Sena are staging a protest to prevent the women's entry in the hill shrine, according to a source.

The Sena is said to send a seven-member suicide squad to temple to prevent women who try to defy its tradition and custom.

"Instead we are showing extreme patience to see that the traditions of the temple is protected. We, the believers, are attached to no political parties and our only concern is that traditions should be protected and I will go to any extent, even laying down my life for it," said Gopalakrishnan.

Protestors till now have shooed away many women belonging to the age group of 10-50years (mesturating group) from entering the temple premises.

Two lady doctors had to show their age proof to satisfy the protestors to let them enter temple. Many lady constable were send back by protestors as they did not fall under permitted age group to enter temple.

Thiruvananthapuram-based Sena leader Peringamala Aji said that the suicide squad members will commit suicide if anyone dares to violate temple's tradition. He also added that hundreds of protestors will be send to Nilakkal and Pampa to resist women from the menstruating age group from entering the temple.

“We will not allow them to cross Pampa. They would be able to trek on the hill only by stepping over the dead bodies of our workers. Be it Trupti Desai or anyone else, our workers won't let anybody break customs,” the Sena leader said.

He further added that the protest is not against the Supreme Court verdict but the state government. The government should protect the customs and practices of the temple and shouldn't implement it without considering other options to uphold age old tradition.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, has also made an offer to state government to either file a review petition in Supreme Court or pass an ordinance to nullify the court's verdict.

However, both the pleas have been rejected by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as his government had favoured women's entry in the Sabarimala temple in the affidavit filed in the court.

Saima Siddiqui

Saima Siddiqui

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