The Travancore Devasam Board, which manages the Sabarimala shrine has moved the Supreme Court of India Monday seeking more time to implement its verdict allowing women of all ages entry into the temple, following the court’s September verdict that struck down on the ages-old tradition.
On Friday, activist Trupti Desai dropped her plan to visit the shrine following a 14 hour standoff at the Cochin airport and vowed to come back to the state soon to have darshan of Lord Ayyappa.
Friday was the beginning of the first annual season, amid tight security and stringent conditions for visiting devotees even as Opposition parties and Hindu groups had prepared to oppose the entry of women of all age into the hill shrine.
No young woman turned up at the base stations of Pamba and Nilakkal even though around 700 women had registered their names with police. The temple board also symbolically erased a warning board at Pamba against the entry of women aged between 10 and 50.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday evening in a Facebook post had asked for co-operation from people to maintain peace for the two-month long pilgrimage season.
On Saturday, a 12 hour shutdown was initiated by Hindu outfits against the preventive detention of a Hindu Aikya Vedi leader.
Hindu Aikyavedi state President K P Sasikala, a 50-year-old who was on the pilgrimage trek, was taken into preventive custody late evening at 2:30 am near Marakootam after she allegedly defied orders, police said.
By evening, Sasikala was released on bail and was issued a show cause notice by the court. She was further allowed to undertake the pilgrimage and headed to the shrine for darshan but was instructed to return as soon as her darshan was over.
BJP general secretary K Surendran and Thrissur district president A Nagesh were also taken into preventive custody by the police from Nilakkal base camp citing security concerns if they were allowed to pass.
A young couple traveling in a car were attacked by protesters for defying the hartal and were immediately rushed to a hospital, said The News Minute report.
On Sunday, after the arrest of BJP general secretary, party workers blocked the highway at Thiruvalla in protest. Traffic was blocked at various places including in state capital, Kochi, Thrissur, Palakkad, Kasaragod, and in front of Kottarakara sub-jail, where Surendran has been lodged.
On late Sunday night, several BJP and RSS workers protested outside the official residence of CM Pinarayi Vijayan protested against “police high handedness”. At least 72 pilgrims were arrested shortly after midnight for carrying a ‘namajapa’ (prayer) protest outside Sannidhanam.
According to the police, these are activists from right wing outfits who aim to create trouble outside the temple. The arrests were made as protesters refused to follow instructions issued by the police to leave the premises after the temple was closed. They have been charged for violating Sec 144 orders and interfering in the work of a police duty.
Today, CM Vijayan told Indian Express, “If there is a court order, the option before the government is to implement it. If women come to Sabarimala following the order, our duty is to take steps to facilitate their entry along with the Devaswom Board.”
The agitations and tensions arrive at a time when uptil now, since the September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court of India striking down on restrictions barring women of menstrual age to enter the shrine, no woman had been allowed by the protestors to enter the temple.
The apex court, on November 13, had refused to stay its September order and fixed the date for hearing review petitions on January 22. There are over 48 petitions seeking a review of the order.