A group of Hindu outfits protesting the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple has sent a letter to media houses requesting them to not send women journalists to cover the protests at the hill shrine, reported The Indian Express on Sunday. The temple is set to open for a day on Monday.
The letter was sent by the Sabarimala Karma Samiti, a group of outfits including the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Aikyavedi. “The whole issue is about the adamant stand of the state government in forcibly bringing in young women aged between 10 and 50 years which is against the age-old traditions and customs of the Sabarimala Temple,” the letter said, according to The News Minute. “Even the entry of women journalists from media belonging to this age group as part of their job is also likely to aggravate the situation.”
Kerala Director General of Police Loknath Behara dismissed the reports and said there was no bar on the entry of journalists, PTI reported. “To ensure necessary protection to the media, we are not allowing them now,” he said. “As soon as security arrangements are complete, media will be allowed in Sabarimala and nearby places.”
The letter also accused the Left government in Kerala, which supports the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of women into temple, of using brute force to hastily enforce the judgement before the top court can hear review petitions on November 13. It claimed the devotees are “left with no choice but to continue their peaceful agitations”.
The temple is set to open for a day on Monday evening for the second time since the Supreme Court order. According to Kerala Police, 1,500 personnel have been deployed around Sabarimala temple and a 20-member commando team has been deployed at Sannidhanam, Nilakkal and Pamba – the entry points to the hill shrine.
The police will also deploy, if needed, 30 women police personnel in the rank of circle inspector and sub-inspector and above the age of 50 at the temple complex for security.
Pathanamthitta Superintendent of Police T Narayanan said media personnel have been asked to stay away from travelling to the hill shrine till the day it reopens, NDTV reported. Barricades have been erected at several places to prevent the entry of protestors.
Prohibitory orders have been imposed in Sannidhanam, Nilakkal, Elavunkal and Pamba from Saturday midnight to November 6.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullapally Ramachandran described the situation as “explosive” and accused the Left Democratic Front government of failing to handle it. Party leaders on Sunday organised a protest in Pathanamthitta against the Supreme Court’s verdict, ANI reported.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader MT Ramesh said if the police tried to stop devotees from visiting the shrine, it would lead to “serious repercussions”. Meanwhile, the party’s state president PS Sreedharan Pillai received a death threat, PTI reported quoting from the party’s press statement.
On October 17, the temple opened to the public for the first time since the court’s order. Protestors gathered near the shrine prevented women aged between 10 and 50 from entering its premises. The shrine closed on October 22 after the monthly rituals were completed, but not a single woman of menstruating age was able to enter it.
Several religious outfits have been protesting against the court’s order. State units of the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party have also opposed the Supreme Court order. The state government had said it would implement the order, but was unable to do so in the light of protests.