As they say, third time’s a charm. On Monday, the Kerala government admitted that just two women, between the ages of 10 and 50, have entered the temple at Sabarimala after the Supreme Court lifted restrictions on the entry of women of all ages at the hill-top shrine.
The clarification comes after the ruling LDF government in the state last month submitted in the Supreme Court a list of 51 women between 10-50 ages who had supposedly entered the temple.
But within hours of the list being publicised, the government was left red-faced as it contained names of several men as well as women who were over the age of 50 as well. Following the gaffe, an enquiry was ordered as to how the mistake occurred and subsequently, 34 names were cut off the list. But now, the government, citing the temple management, has reasoned that it has proof to show just two women entering the temple.
Citing a report by the executive officer of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which administers the temple, Kadakampally Surendran, the minister in-charge of temple affairs, made the candid admission on the floor of the state Assembly during the Question Hour. The two women referred to by the government as having offered prayers at the temple are Bindu Ammini and Kanakadurga, both in their early 40s.
They had climbed the hill at Sabarimala in the cover of police protection on the morning of January 2. Visuals that showed the two women entering through the main door of the temple through a side-gate were later substantiated by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan as well. At the same time, Surendran stated in his response that there was no official proof to a Sri Lankan woman having offered prayers at the shrine.
The government clarification comes just two days before the Supreme Court takes up a bunch of review petitions against it’s September 28 order of the constitution bench that lifted restrictions on the entry of young women at the temple.