The Kerala police have sought a ban on the assembly of more than four people at the Sabarimala Temple as the shrine in the Pathanamthitta district will be opened for five-day monthly pujas on Tuesday, according to government officials familiar with the matter, report Hindustan Times.
The request has been made to prevent any showdown at the shrine during the pujas as an apex body of Hindu outfits has reiterated its plan to block women of menstruating age from entering the shrine.
The Sabarimala Karma Samiti, the apex body, has been opposing the September 28 Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages to worship at the shrine. “We will continue our peaceful protest [against the entry of women of all age groups] till we get justice,” said Samiti leader, KP Sasikala. She added the government continued to provoke devotees.
Many women, who could not make it to the shrine during the seasonal pilgrimage that ended on January 20, have announced their plans to trek to the temple. “We are in touch with the police, and, if they help us, we will make it this time,” said Reshma Nishanth, a teacher from North Kerala’s Kannur district who was sent back from the shrine after protests against the entry of women into the shrine last month. Pathanamthitta police chief, T Narayanan, has recommended the imposition of the prohibitory orders under the Code of Criminal Procedure’s Section 144 to the district administration, warning the situation may turn volatile again, according to government officials.
Section 144 prohibits assembly of more than four people in an area. It provides for a three-year jail term for anybody obstructing a police officer trying to prevent an unlawful assembly. The district collector was expected to take a call on the imposition of Section 144 late on Monday night depending on how the situation evolves, according to government officials.
Bindu Ammini and Kanakadurga made history on January 2 by becoming the first women of menstruating age to enter the Sabarimala temple after the Supreme Court’s judgment.
The shrine is being opened for the pujas over a fortnight after the 64-day annual pilgrimage season concluded on January 20.