In order to avoid unrest at Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, slated to open for a special prayer on November 5, the Pathanamthitta district administration Friday imposed Section 144 in four areas. The temporary ban restricts the gathering of more than four people at Saanidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal and Elavunkal from November 4 to November 6. The administration has also issued orders to intensify police patrolling in these areas to ensure nobody is harmed, reported news agency PTI.
Section 144 was imposed for five days between October 17 and 22 in these four areas, after violent protests broke out against the entry of women between in the age group of 10-50.
Several women had attempted to offer prayers at Sabarimala in October, the first time the temple opened following the Supreme Court verdict, but their efforts turned futile after BJP protesters barred them from entering the ‘sannidhanam’ with the head priest of the shrine even threatening to lock it if they attempt to enter it.
The Supreme Court on September 28 had ruled in favour of allowing women of all ages to enter the temple which the CPI (M)-led LDF government accepted and was trying to implement. In view of similar attempts on November 5, however, Section 144 has been imposed in advance. A review petition was filed against the earlier verdict which the apex court Wednesday refused to grant an urgent hearing to and scheduled it for November 13.
Nearly 543 cases were registered and 3,700 people arrested in connection with the temple protests last month.