The Kerala Police on Tuesday stopped a 12-year-old girl from trekking to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple after she arrived in the town of Pamba, PTI reported. The temple was opened to devotees for the annual two-month pilgrimage season on Saturday evening.
The child, from Puducherry, was shown as 10 years old during online booking, the report said. But the police examined her identity card and found that she was 12, following which they refused to allow her family to take her to the temple. Her father and other relatives left her at a room in the Pamba base camp and proceeded to the temple.
Last week, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court ruled, in a 3:2 verdict, that a larger bench should again consider the matter of the entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple. The court had taken the decision after reviewing a number of petitions filed against its September 2018 verdict that had removed traditional restrictions on women of menstruating age.
Though last year’s judgement has not been stayed, the Kerala government and police have not allowed women to enter the shrine this year. Authorities had turned away two women on Monday and 10 women from Andhra Pradesh on Saturday. However, the police had claimed that the 10 women decided to abandon the plan to trek uphill “on their own volition” and had not been forced to go back.
Women’s rights campaigner Trupti Desai said she will visit the temple after November 20 irrespective of whether the state government provides protection or not. As many as 45 women of menstruating age have made online bookings to enter the temple this year, according to reports.
Meanwhile, the state government told the Kerala High Court on Tuesday that it was not against allowing small vehicles to go up to the Pamba base camp, The Indian Express reported. The government had earlier opposed this citing security reasons and said vehicles should stop at Nilakkal, which is about 18 km from Pamba.