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Sabarimala protests Highlights: Kerala High Court expresses displeasure over police action

Sabarimala protests: The police had Sunday night detained over 72 pilgrims, who were arrested shortly after midnight for carrying a 'namajapa' (prayer) protest outside Sannidhanam.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 20, 2018 1:28:48 am
Sabarimala protests, kerala news Sabarimala protests: BJP workers block a highway during a protest against the arrest of their leader K Surendran, who police said was taken into preventive custody on Saturday night at Nilakkal base camp near the Sabarimala temple. (Source: REUTERS)

The Travancore Devasam Board, which manages the Sabarimala shrine has moved the Supreme Court seeking more time to implement its verdict allowing women of all ages entry into the temple.

Following protests by the Kerala BJP and RSS workers against the detention of several people at the Sabarimala temple, the party’s youth wing, Yuvamorcha, will launch a daylong state-wide agitation on Monday. “We have organised state-wide protest against this emergency like situation in the state,” Yuvamorcha state president Prakash Babu said.

On late Sunday night, several BJP and RSS workers protested outside the official residence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan protested against “police high handedness”. At least 72 pilgrims were arrested shortly after midnight for carrying a ‘namajapa’ (prayer) protest outside Sannidhanam.

According to the police, these are activists from right wing outfits who aim to create trouble outside the temple. The arrests were made as protesters refused to follow instructions issued by the police to leave the premises after the temple was closed. They have been charged for violating Sec 144 orders and interfering in the work of a police duty.

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Sabarimala protests continue across Kerala; here are the highlights

01:12 (IST)20 Nov 2018
Sabarimala: Protest breaks out, 20 pilgrims asked to move out

A minor protest broke out at the Sabarimala Temple late Monday night after 20 pilgrims were asked to move out of the shrine's 'vavarunada' area, a high sensitive zone, police said. However, the protesters were soon pacified by the police and taken to Nadapanthal area.

19:19 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Congress slams Kerala CM, equates police action against devotees to 'Operation Blue Star'

Equating the police action against devotees at Sabarimala 'Sannidhanam' to 'Operation Blue Star', Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala Monday hit out at Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and asked if the state was under the rule of Hitler.

19:07 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Kerala High Court expresses displeasure over police action

The Kerala High Court expressed its displeasure over the manner in which Ayyappa devotees were dealt with by the police at the "Sannidhanam" of the Sabarimala temple, reported PTI. 

A division bench comprising justices P R Ramachandra Menon and N Anil Kumar, questioned the alleged police excesses and asked under what authority did the police prevent the devotees from entering the Sabarimala Sannidhanam. The court warned that stringent action would be taken against police officials if such incidents were repeated.

16:38 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Not asking women to enter shrine… our duty to give them protection: Kerala CM

"If there is a court order, the option before the government is to implement it. If women come to Sabarimala following the order, our duty is to take steps to facilitate their entry along with the Devaswom Board," Pinarayi Vijayan told The Indian Express

14:49 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Travancore Devaswom Board moves SC seeking more time to implement Sabarimala verdict

Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the Sabarimala shrine,  has moved the Supreme Court seeking more time to implement its verdict allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple, reported PTI. 

The board has cited lack of basic amenities among other things as the reason for seeking more time from the top court. Pilgrims had said there was lack of adequate toilet facilities, causing immense difficulties especially to women, and rest rooms after the floods in August that had destroyed the infrastructure.

13:23 (IST)19 Nov 2018
7 years after tragedy, Sabarimala order might pose next big challenge for Sathram route

Beginning the middle of November every year, R Vijayan would remember to set his alarm clock to ring at 3 am in the morning every day. For the next two months, the 53-year-old jeep driver has a tight morning schedule. He would wake up every day at 3 am, get ready and drive his jeep around 2 kilometres to the centre of Vandiperiyar, a small, sleepy town in Idukki district of Kerala perched amidst lush tea and coffee plantations. There, he would light his beedi in the darkness of the night and wait patiently for the few state transport buses ferrying Sabarimalapilgrims from Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts.

“These are special buses that are run during the season. The pilgrims would get down here and rest for some time before we take them in our jeeps to Sathram, 15 km away, from where they begin the arduous jungle trek to the temple,” says Vijayan.

The trek that Vijayan refers to is one of the alternate and frankly lesser-used routes that Sabarimala pilgrims take every year during the annual ‘mandala’ pooja festivities. Despite its adverse geographical contours, this route offers pilgrims the advantage of reaching the ‘sannidhanam’ (main temple) at Sabarimala directly, bypassing the long queues at Pamba and Nilakkal, the main base camps of the shrine.

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12:04 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Is Kerala under Hitler rule: Congress targets CM Vijayan over Sabarimala arrests

Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala Monday took on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the police action against Lord Ayyappa devotees at Sabarimala Sannidhanam and asked if Kerala was under the rule of Hitler. He alleged the government was trying to "brand" Ayyappa devotees as Sangh Parivar activists and thus helping RSS recruit people to its fold.

"It is police high-handedness. Innocent devotees who sought shelter at Valiya Nadappandhal (covered pathway) were also arrested. They all are not Sangh Parivar activists who reached there to create trouble. Is Kerala under the rule of Hitler (Nazi ruler Adolf Hitler)," Chennithala told reporters here.

Urging the government to take action only against protesters who reach the hill shrine for disrupting peace there, he said, "Arresting real devotees, who climb the hills to offer prayers, could not be accepted."

11:40 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Sabarimala: BJP state chief demands judicial probe into arrests

BJP state unit President, P S Sreedharan Pillai, described the arrests as 'cruel' and said the party wants a judicial probe into it. The pilgrims were peacefully protesting at 'sannidhanam' against the lack of facilities and stringent restrictions imposed by the police at the temple complex.

Devotees chanting 'nama japam' had gathered at the covered pathway to the temple and had refused to disperse even after the shrine closed at 11 pm. Since prohibitory orders had been imposed, police informed them that they should leave and cannot stay back.

Police sources said they had information that the protesters might create trouble at 'Sannidhanam' and they had take precautionary measures accordingly

11:34 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Trupati Desai may not have entered Sabarimala temple but she has not returned empty-handed

She might not have been able to make it to the Sabarimala temple but Trupti Desai has not returned to Pune from Kochi empty-handed. The day-long drama at Kochi airport on Friday was just another day in office for the 33-year-old Pune resident who has made a career out of such agitations.

“She has already achieved her motive. She has got all the attention and publicity she wanted. This is her style,” said Priyanka Jagtap, a former colleague of Desai, in a not-so-flattering tone. Jagtap was associated with Desai’s Bhumata Ranragini Brigade for about a decade before splitting up to go her own way.

Jagtap was only echoing an assessment of Desai that is shared by several, including some current and former supporters: that Desai’s campaigns for seeking entry into religious shrines where women are not allowed are nothing more than publicity stunts and an attempt to build her profile. But there are many others, including a few prominent political figures from the city, who do consider or take Desai and her activism seriously. Even her detractors acknowledge that she is a “brave” and “gutsy” woman.

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11:05 (IST)19 Nov 2018
CPM in phase of liquidation, Pinarayi Vijayan will be party’s last chief minister of Kerala: State BJP chief

At the dharna outside the municipal stadium in Pathanamthitta on a rainy evening, Pillai said the BJP would step up protests in coming days to ensure ‘upkeep’ of rituals and traditions at Sabarimala. “We are exploring all opportunities to expand the protests nationwide. We have also held consultations with the Centre on how to move legally. We will continue to walk on the path of dharma,” he said. He also hinted that a central minister would visit Sabarimala on Monday, ostensibly referring to Alphons Kannanthanam, the MoS for Tourism and IT, who is likely to visit the shrine to take stock of arrangements for pilgrims.

Read more here

10:25 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Police deployed at Sabarimala to instill fear and panic: Alphons

"This is not Soviet Russia under Stalin, this is a democratic country. Thousands of police officers are deployed here as if in a bid to instill fear and panic, why? Law and order is the responsibility of the state govt," Union Minister KJ Alphons said.

The Union minister hit out at the Kerala government for turning the Sabarimala temple complex into a "war zone" and treating the pilgrims like "dacoits".

10:01 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Express Editorial: Pilgrim’s progress

The decision of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the autonomous body responsible for the running of the Sabarimala shrine, to seek more time from the Supreme Court to implement its order on the entry of women of all age groups to the temple is a step in the right direction.

The heightened anxieties among the faithful in the aftermath of the court ruling and the subsequent political mobilisations have pushed the pilgrimage to the edge. In this background, any step that may help to alleviate the tension is welcome. The TDB’s conciliatory gesture will hopefully help in the smooth conduct of the pilgrimage. 

Read more here

09:52 (IST)19 Nov 2018
The issue of women's entry into Sabarimala temple

The Sabarimala shrine opened on Friday amid tight security, for the third time since the Supreme Court judgement allowing entry of women of menstrual age inside the temple. However, no girl or woman pilgrim in the 10-50 age group could offer prayers so far. The 41-day mandalam festival will conclude on December 27 after Mandala pooja, when the shrine will close after the 'Athazhapuja' in the evening. It would reopen for the Makaravilakku festival on December 30.As the stand-off continues, Pune-based activist Trupti Desai was Friday stopped by protesters at Kochi airport as she along with six other women reached Kerala to pray at the hill shrine.

09:23 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Visuals from last night's protests at the Sannidhanam
09:14 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Situation worse than emergency: Alphons
09:10 (IST)19 Nov 2018
State under dictatorship: Union Minister Alphons

Union Minister KJ Alphons attacked CPI(M) government in the state over the detention of pilgrims at the Sabarimala temple.  Addressing the media in Pamba, he  said, "What is happening here is an administration running a dictatorship, for no reason at all." 

09:04 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Restrictions owing to earlier incidents of violence: Police

On the second day of the pilgrimage season, the devotees had gathered at the covered pathway to the temple when they were asked to leave Sannidhanam. Due to the early incidents of violence at the hill-top shrine, the police had imposed strict restrictions for devotees at Sannidhanam, including not allowing them to stay back at night.

"Section 144 had been declared in the area. We had asked them to disperse after the Harivarasanam but most of them refused," the SP said, adding that the police was not against the devotees who wished to offer prayers.

09:00 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Hindu Aikya Vedi president KP Sasikala allowed to enter Sabarimala temple

Meanwhile, Hindu Aikya Vedi president KP Sasikala has been allowed to go to Sabarimala. She has signed a police condition letter that she will return in 6 hours and will not make any provocative statements to the media. She had been detained by the police at Marakootam on Saturday after she allegedly defied directions not to spend the night on the temple complex.

08:56 (IST)19 Nov 2018
Lack of basic facilities at Sabarimala shrine

On Sunday BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai and party's sole MLA O Rajagopal had addressed a dharna in Pathanamthitta town, which was held against lack of proper arrangements for pilgrims at Sabarimala.The Kerala Human Rights Commission had also addressed the issue and directed the TDB, DGP and Local Self Government Department to ensure that basic facilities were provided to pilgrims at the temple complex.

08:55 (IST)19 Nov 2018
MoS K J Alphons reaches Nilakkal base camp to review facilities for pilgrims

Union Minister of State K J Alphons, who reached Nilakkal base camp Monday morning, said he will go to Pamba and Sannidhanam to understand the arrangements that have been made for the pilgrims there.

'Centre had given Rs 100 crore for the renovation-rehabilitation efforts at Sabarimala after the floods. I am going there to check whether the state has spent that money and how they have used it. I have come as a MoS Tourism, not as a BJP leader,' he said.

On Sunday night, BJP and RSS members had gathered in front of Cliff House-- Pinarayi Vijayan's official residence at Nanthancode in Thiruvananthapuram, while simultaneous protests were also held at various places across the state in Aranmula, Kochi, Kollam, Alapuzha, Ranni, Thodupuzha, Kaladi, Malappuram and Idukki among others.

Gross violation of Human Rights of devotees at Sabarimala: Kerala rights body Sabarimala: Devotees wait to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa temple on the first day of Malayalam month of 'Vrischikom,' in Sabarimala, Saturday. (PTI Photo)

Earlier on Sunday, the BJP had called for a protest against the detention of Kerala BJP general secretary K Surendran, who was removed from Nilakkal on Saturday night.

BJP chief P S Sreedharan Pillai claimed the ruling CPM in Kerala has entered ‘a phase of liquidation’. He lashed out at Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for taking an adamant stand on the row and warned that he will be his party’s last chief minister in the state. “This government is destroying Sabarimala. It is waging a war with devotees,” Pillai said at a dharna organised in Pathanamthitta district to protest the lack of arrangements for pilgrims at the temple.

Sabarimala Exclusive: Why Supreme Court order might pose next big challenge for Sathram route

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