27/12/2018 12:05 PM IST

Can't Provide Protection to 'Women Activists' Visiting Sabarimala: Kerala Police

A senior officer has denied media reports the police had “banned” entry of “women activists” till the busiest phase of the pilgrim season had ended.

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Police escort Kanaga Durga and Bindu after their group of women was stopped by protesters during an effort to reach the Sabarimala Ayyapa temple from Pamba in Kerala on 24 December.

The Kerala Police has said it would not be able to provide protection to women activists attempting to enter Sabarimala, Malayala Manorama reported. The special officer posted at Sannidhanam, the temple, has submitted a report to DGP Loknath Behera in which he wrote, “It is obvious that most of them are looking for publicity. The police should be allowed to dissuade them from going to the shrine.”

According to Manorama, the police has said that one of the women who recently attempted to enter the temple, Bindu from Kozhikode, had a criminal record and several cases pending against her.

Bindu was among the two women who reached within 500 metres of the temple on Monday but was forced to return due to protests.

However, a senior officer, according to The Hindu, has denied media reports the police had “banned” entry of “women activists” till the busiest phase of the pilgrim season had ended and said that the police force was constitutionally bound to uphold the SC order.

The first phase of the temple’s two-month long puja will come to a close on Thursday with the Mandala pooja. The temple will open again on 30 December for the Makaravilakku festival and the pilgrimage season will come to an end on 20 January.

As of Christmas day, 32 lakh pilgrims had reached Sabarimala, Travancore Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar said.

On Wednesday, Padmakumar appealed to “genuine women devotees” to not visit the temple till the busy pilgrimage season was over.

“Security issues and other problems are bound to happen if young women come to offer prayers at a time when lakhs of devotees are flocking there... On the Devaswom board’s behalf, I request genuine women devotees to not come during this time,” he was quoted as saying by NDTV.

He said the board would hold discussions with the state government, court officials and other stakeholders after the season was over. 

The Sabarimala shrine has witnessed protests over the government’s decision to implement the Supreme court verdict allowing women of all ages to offer prayers.

So far no women in the ‘traditionally barred’ age group of 10-50 years has succeeded in offering prayers at the shrine, since the 28 September apex court verdict.

Dozens of young women have unsuccessfully tried to reach hill shrine and offer prayers, but returned following protests by devotees.

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