On the fourth day of the two-month-long annual Sabarimala pilgrimage season, police stopped a 12-year-old girl on Tuesday from trekking to the Lord Ayyappa shrine, PTI reported. The girl, hailing from Puducherry, had come with her father and relatives and was not allowed to proceed to the shrine from the Pamba base station.
While the age of the girl had been shown as 10 in the virtual Q booking, it was later found she was 12 years old after examining her Aadhaar card, PTI quoted police as saying.
“After those accompanying the child were informed about the current situation in Sabarimala, her father and other relatives proceeded to the temple,” police said.
On the opening day of the temple, police stopped at least 10 young women from trekking to the hill shrine. Police sources said the 10 women of menstruating age were part of a group of about 50 people from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. On Monday, two more women in the age group of 10-50 years were stopped by police.
A nine-year-old Keralite girl, who came to the temple complex from Karnataka, had a placard around her neck inscribed with the words: “Ready to wait. Will visit the shrine after attaining 50 years”. Hailing from Thrissur, the girl said she would have darshan of Lord Ayyappa only after she reaches 50.
To stop young women from going to the shrine, police have decided to check all vehicles at Nilakkal — the first base station from where pilgrims are allowed to proceed to Pamba. Women police constables have been deployed in the area.
On Friday, a day after the Supreme Court referred review petitions on the entry of women of all ages in Sabarimala to a larger bench, the Kerala government pointed to “grey areas” in the judgment and indicated that it is “not going to take young women to the temple”.
The latest stand is in stark contrast to the CPM-led government’s position last year when the Supreme Court had lifted the traditional bar on women of menstruating age from entering the temple. This is the second pilgrim season after the Supreme Court’s ruling in September 2018.
Last year, the government had pushed firmly to implement the court order, while equating the entry of young women to the Left’s commitment to ensuring gender justice and protecting the renaissance traditions of the state.
However, this move led to largescale protests that contributed to the Left alliance ending up with just one seat out of 20 in the Lok Sabha polls.