The Kerala Police on Wednesday arrested a man for allegedly assaulting a woman pilgrim at the Sabarimala temple. After the Supreme Court in September overturned the temple’s ban on the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50, hundreds of people, said to be mainly workers of Hindutva groups, have been protesting at the shrine.
The temple opened for the second time, since the top court’s ruling, on Monday for two days of special rituals. On Tuesday, a group of protestors surrounded Lalitha Ravi, 52, and heckled her as she arrived at the hill shrine with her family members to offer prayers. She was escorted away from the protestors by the police but returned later with her Aadhaar card to prove she was above 50.
Lalitha had been hospitalised after she complained of uneasiness. She and her family visited the shrine with police escorts after she was released from the hospital.
Sooraj, from Elanthur in Pathanamthitta district, was one of the main accused in the incident, PTI reported. Sooraj was arrested on non-bailable charges under sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to attempt to commit culpable homicide and assault on woman with an intent to “outrage her modesty”.
He was arrested on the basis of digital evidence and photographs available from the scene, Superintendent of Police, Pathanamthitta, T Narayanan told PTI. He said the police have registered cases against 200 identified people for trying to prevent Lalitha from entering the temple.
Previously, when the temple opened from October 17 to October 22, for the first time after the Supreme Court’s order, it became the site of massive protests as people prevented women aged between 10 and 50 from entering the premises. At least 15 women on menstruating age tried to enter the temple over those five days, but not one succeeded.