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Bindu Ammini, who prayed at Sabarimala last year, attacked with chilli spray before fresh attempt

Bindu Ammini, who was later taken to a hospital, arrived at the commissioner's office along with Pune-based activist Trupti Desai and other activists to seek police protection before they attempt to trek till Sabarimala. 

By: Express Web Desk | Kochi, New Delhi |
Updated: November 26, 2019 12:37:15 pm
Sabarimala, Sabarimala verdict, Sabarimala temple, Bindu Amminim Trupti Desai, Trupti Desai Sabarimala, Sabarimala protests, Sabarimala women entry, Sabarimala law, Sabarimala kerala Bindu Ammini entered the Sabarimala Temple with her friend last year (Samyukta Lakshmi/The New York Times/File)

A Hindu Helpline activist was arrested Tuesday for spraying chilli powder on Bindu Ammini, one of the two women who had first managed to offer prayers at the Sabarimala temple last year, outside the Kochi Police Commissioner’s office. The activist was identified as Srinath Padmanabhan.

Ammini, who was later taken to a hospital, arrived at the commissioner’s office along with Pune-based activist Trupti Desai and other activists to seek police protection before they attempt to trek till Sabarimala.

This is Desai’s second attempt to visit the shrine after protesters barred her entry in November last year. “I will leave Kerala only after offering prayers at the shrine,” the activist said, adding that she has chosen today (November 26) to visit the shrine as it was the Constitution Day. Desai also said that she has brought along the 2018 order of the Supreme Court that lifted the ban on entry of women of all ages at the Lord Ayyappa temple.

Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran alleged conspiracy behind women’s rights activist Trupti Desai’s decision to visit Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. “There is naturally a suspicion on the part of the government whether there is a conspiracy behind the arrival of Trupti Desai and others in Kerala. She comes from Pune in Maharashtra where the BJP and RSS wield a lot of influence. Only one media outlet knew of their arrival. They said they are going to Sabarimala via Kottayam. But they end up at the police commissioner’s office in Ernakulam. One of the people assembled there had a chilli spray with which he attacked a woman. There is nothing wrong in believing that there is a fixed screenplay and agenda behind all this. A man is standing there with a chilli-spray ready to attack. So is it clear that there is an organised attempt to spread violence during what has otherwise been a peaceful Sabarimala pilgrimage season.”

He also said the attack shows that there are people who want to break law and order in the state. “The government has expressed its opinion very clearly. In 2018, we took the lead in implementing the Supreme Court verdict then. We have made no compromise in upholding constitutional values. In the 2019 ruling, there is a lack of clarity. We are not the only one to say that. The lack of clarity still exists. The incidents of today indicate that there are people who want to break law and order.”

While it has not stayed its 2018 order, the apex court has recently decided to refer review pleas against its judgment to a larger bench. Following the SC’s ruling this year, the Kerala government has adopted a cautious approach and made it clear Sabarimala was not a place for activism. It also added that no women devotees will be granted police protection and that they will not be allowed near the shrine without the Supreme Court order.

Many women, including a 12-year-old girl, have been turned away from the shrine since the temple opened last month.

The Sabarimala temple opened for the annual ‘mandala-makaravilakku’ festival this year on the evening of November 16. The mandala pooja is scheduled on December 27 after which the sanctum sanctorum closes for three days. It reopens again on December 30.

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