Entered Sabarimala temple without police escort or facing protests, says Dalit womanhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/entered-sabarimala-without-police-escort-or-facing-protests-says-dalit-woman-5531081/

Entered Sabarimala temple without police escort or facing protests, says Dalit woman

Manju, who had made two aborted attempts to visit the temple since the court’s order, stated that she had “darshan” on Tuesday morning after climbing the 18 sacred steps.

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A native of Chathannoor, in Kollam district, Manju said she had reached Pamba, the base station, from Thrissur around 4 am Tuesday and trekked with other pilgrims.

Days after two young women visited Sabarimala temple in Kerala defying protesters, a Dalit woman on Wednesday claimed to have visited the hill shrine without any police escort or facing protests from devotees.

S P Manju, 39, a social worker and Kerala Dalit Mahila Federation leader, posted a video on her Sabarimala visit in a Facebook group, ‘Renaissance Kerala to Sabarimala’, which is campaigning for entry of young women to the temple as per Supreme Court’s order.

Manju, who had made two aborted attempts to visit the temple since the court’s order, stated that she had “darshan” on Tuesday morning after climbing the 18 sacred steps.

A native of Chathannoor, in Kollam district, Manju said she had reached Pamba, the base station, from Thrissur around 4 am Tuesday and trekked with other pilgrims. She said: “I did not face any protest. It is baseless that I was disguised as an aged woman to escape protests. From Pamba, I trekked with two youths, who are familiar with me — they took my visuals from the temple and posted on social media.”

She said, “I was ready to face protests but did not…. But now I fear attack from Sangh Parivar, or others opposing entry of young women to Sabarimala. Police have been deployed at my house.”

Neither the government nor the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the temple, has confirmed Manju’s claim.

A senior police officer, however, said there is no reason to suspect her claim. “We have seen the video on social media — she seems to have taken the regular route without seeking police support. The police will protect and escort only women who approach us. Otherwise, we don’t interfere in the visit of pilgrims. We don’t conduct any separate verification of women,’’ the officer said.

The erstwhile Pandalam royal family, which has stake in rituals at the temple, said Manju’s claim is part of a larger agenda.

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“If the woman was found to have visited the temple, there will be purification rituals,’’ R R Varma, the family’s representative, said.