Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said his government will continue to implement the Supreme Court’s order to allow women into the Sabarimala temple after the top court agreed to hear petitions against its own verdict, News18 reported. Earlier on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said it will hear in open court a batch of 49 review petitions against its September 28 verdict on January 22.
The chief minister said there was no change in the government’s stance. “Legal experts will be consulted,” Vijayan said. On Thursday, Vijayan will hold an all party meet to discuss the Sabarimala matter.
On the two occasions the temple has opened to devotees since the order, women of all ages were unable to enter the shrine due to massive protests. Before the Supreme Court order in September, only women under the age of 10 and over the age of 50 had been given entry to the temple.
Over 3,700 persons have been arrested so far and 546 cases registered in connection with violence in Sabarimala following the Supreme Court’s decision.
Kandararu Rajeevaru, the head priest, said the top court’s decision to hear the pleas was a “great one”, Hindustan Times reported. “Lord Ayyappa helped us. Really grateful to all devotees,” the head priest said.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said it will continue to protest against attempts to allow women to enter the shrine, News18 reported. “Protests will continue if the government tries to break the rituals,” RSS leader Valsan Thillankery said.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party has described the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the batch of petitions as an “initial victory”. “We are hopeful of overcoming the Supreme Court verdict when review petitions are heard. We will continue our fight till the end,” K Surendran, BJP’s state general secretary, said. BJP state president Sreedharan Pillai said Tuesday’s development was a “good step”.
On November 9, the state police had filed a First Information Report against Pillai for a controversial speech on the Sabarimala protests.
The Congress also welcomed the court’s decision. “We hope the court will understand the devotees’ sentiments and take a favourable decision,” Kerala Congress working president K Sudhakaran said.
Activist Rahul Easwar told Hindustan Times that “peaceful protests” will continue. “We will guard the temple till January 22,” Easwar said. “I hope the government will respect devotees sentiments now.”
The shrine is set to open again for Mandala pooja Mahotsavam on Friday and close on December 27.