New Delhi: The Kerala High Court on Monday refused police protection to four women devotees who wanted to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala temple. The court also condemned the police action at the shrine which took place between October 19-22, saying it was against the ethos of a civilised society.
Last week , four women in the menstrual age group had approached the Kerala High Court seeking a direction to the state government to provide them security to offer prayers at the temple. In their petition, the women, including two lawyers, submitted that despite a judgement of the Supreme Court permitting entry of all women into the hill shrine, the hopes of the female devotees of Lord Ayyappa are still in limbo.
The petitioners had alleged that the thanthris (priests) and Pandalam royal family who are bound to act under the directions of the TDB were committing contempt of court by protesting in support of those challenging the fundamental rights declared by the Supreme Court in favour of woman of all ages.
Preventing women from exercising the religious right of worship was punishable with imprisonment of three years under Sec 295A of The Indian Penal Code (IPC), they added.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Kerala police has so far arrested 3505 protesters who prevented entry to women in the Sabarimala temple. At least 529 cases have been registered at various police stations across Kerala, the authorities said.
On Sunday, a Sabarimala tantrik’s family member Rahul Easwar was also taken into custody after the police received a complaint that he had made provocative remarks over the Sabarimala row at a press conference in Kochi.He was charged under IPC Section 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot).
On October 17, the temple opened for the five-day monthly puja. However, the protesters ensured that no women in the barred age group could enter sanctum sanctorum until October 22 when the gates closed.
Extending support to the protesters, BJP chief Amit Shah on Saturday had said that the party cadre would dissolve the Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala if one more devotee is arrested. He has also expressed wish to offer prayers at the hill shrine in Sabarimala during the annual pilgrim season starting on November 17.