KOCHI — Four policemen in civil clothes gave protection to two women of menstrual age and accompanied them when they entered the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala on 2 January, making history, the Kerala High Court was informed on Thursday by a senior police official.
In view of security reasons, the two women ― Bindu and Kanakadurga ― were ushered into the temple through the gate meant for the staff of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which administered the famous hills shrine, and VIPs, Pathnamthitta Superintendent of Police (SP) T Narayanan told the court.
The policemen, who were on duty at Pamba, the foothills of Sabarimala, had accompanied the two women to the “Sannidhanam” (temple complex) on their request and they had entered the sanctum sanctorum through the temple door behind the “Kodimaram” (flag pole), he said.
The submissions were made in an affidavit filed in response to a report by the court-appointed high-powered committee on Sabarimala.
The police took the women through that gate as they wanted to avoid any commotion at the holy eighteen steps, leading to the shrine, in the light of protests, if any, by devotees and activists, the affidavit said.
The two women were “wrongly restrained” by the protesters belonging to right-wing outfits ― the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, the Achara Samrakshana Samithi ― and a prominent political party when they attempted to trek the hill shrine on 24 December last year, it stated.
“In the said circumstances, it was obligatory on the part of the police to protect the life and liberty of these two women in their attempt to trek Sabarimala on 2 January, which right was conferred on them by the judgment of the honourable Supreme Court,” the affidavit added.
On 24 December last year, when the two women were restrained by the protesters at Apachimedu and then at a hospital near the Sannidhanam, the police exercised their operational freedom and decided not to proceed with them further, it was stated.
On 2 January, the police assessed the security situation at Sabarimala, decided that it was “conducive” for the women’s trek to the shrine and accorded protection to the two.
“The police also decided to provide them cover in civil dress so as to avoid the attention of the protesters, if any, at Sabarimala. The entry of these two women to the Sabarimala temple was legal and proper and the same was in accordance with the dictum laid down by the honourable apex court,” the affidavit stated.
The police were constitutionally obligated and statutorily bound to accord protection to the lives and liberties of the two women and they had acted accordingly, the SP said.
Giving a detailed account, he said on 2 January, a total of 93,120 devotees had come to Sabarimala.
The two women, accompanied by the policemen, trekked to Sabarimala and reached the Sannidhanam at 3.52 am on that day.
They had a peaceful “darshan” and none of the devotees, who were at Sabarimala at that point, had any difficulty with the two women having a “darshan” and there were no protests either, the affidavit said.
The entry of the two women devotees into the Sabarimala temple by itself did not create any problem either at Sabarimala or anywhere else in the state of Kerala, it added.
But attempts were made by certain right-wing outfits and a prominent political party to breach the peaceful atmosphere that had prevailed in Sabarimala and in the state under the guise of protesting against the alleged and purported breach of custom on account of the entry of the two women into the temple, the affidavit stated.
Troubles were fomented purposefully by right-wing elements for their political ends, it alleged.
The SP also stated that he was unable to be present before the high court-appointed high-powered committee on 11 January as he had to oversee the security arrangements for the “Thiruvabharnam” procession of Lord Ayyappa.
Kerala had witnessed violent protests in the aftermath of the women’s entry into the temple with houses and offices of BJP-RSS and CPI(M) workers and leaders being attacked in some parts of the state.
After video clips of the women entering the temple surfaced, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had confirmed that they had offered prayers at the shrine.
On 8 January, the high court had expressed concern over the then situation in Sabarimala and said the government should identify those who had an agenda to spoil the peaceful atmosphere at the shrine.
It had also wanted to know whether the two women, who had entered the temple on 2 January, had any agenda.