New Delhi: Violence is escalating and controversy refuses to die down over the entry of women in the banned age group in the Sabarimala Temple. Following the uproar, the UK government has updated its travel advisory to India warning British citizens to remain alert and avoid large public gatherings in Kerala.
On Friday, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), said that British citizens planning to travel to Kerala should monitor media reports pertaining to the entry of women devotees in the Lord Ayyappa shrine. The FCO advisory read, “There have been violent protests in some towns and cities in Kerala over the issue of women accessing the Sabarimala temple. Some public services have been disrupted in the wake of clashes between police and protesters.”
It further stated, “If you are in Kerala or due to travel there, you should monitor media reports closely, remain vigilant and avoid large public gatherings.”
The advisory also cautioned the people visiting India about terror attacks to which India is subjected on a frequent basis. It read, “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in India. Recent attacks have targeted public places including those visited by foreigners. There have been recent media reports suggesting Daesh (Islamic State) may have an interest in attacking targets in India. There may be an increased threat to places visited by British nationals such as religious sites, markets, festival venues and beaches. You should be vigilant at this time, monitor local media and take all precautions for your safety.”
In fact, the United Nations too made its stand over the troubled state of affairs regarding the entry of menstruating women in the Sabarimala Temple. A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world body encourages all to respect the rule of law. Stating that everybody is aware of UN’s position on the rights on equal rights of all people, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq said the UN will leave the matter (Sabarimala row) in the hands of the rule of law authorities in India.
Kerala has remained volatile since the afternoon of January 2 after two women of menstruating age entered the Sabarimala temple. At least 3,178 persons have been arrested in connection with the violence across the state amid the ongoing protests and a total of 1,286 cases has been registered against 37,979 persons.
On Friday night, a crude bomb was hurled at the residence of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker, V Muraleedharan. Similarly, country-made bombs were hurled at the house of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders AN Shamseer and P Sasi and various other places a day before that. The miscreants have not been identified yet, however, a police probe is on in the matter.
The shrine was out of bounds for girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age. The Supreme Court’s September 28, 2018 verdict allowed women of all age groups to offer prayers at the hill shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. Kerala has since then been witnessing massive protests from the right-wing organisations since the Left-led state government decided to implement the Supreme Court ruling.