People have certain sentiment for Ayyappa, we need to respect that, said KJ Alphons
Union Minister KJ Alphons said that the Muslim and the Christian women, who tried to visit the Sabarimala temple did it only for "10 seconds of television time." The minister, on Monday claimed that the women's intention, to visit the temple, was not devotion for Lord Ayyappa; they only wanted to disrupt law and order. Mr Alphons' remarks come a day after the Kerala High Court ruled that the Sabarimala temple is not only for Hindus but has a tradition of welcoming people from all faiths.
"Who are the people trying to disrupt Sabarimala temple? A Muslim lady, who doesn't even go to a mosque, tries to climb Sabarimala to prove a point. What does she wants to prove? There was another Christian girl, who doesn't even go to church. She was going to Sabarimala just to be there before the cameras," news agency ANI quoted Mr Alphons. "They want to have 10 seconds of television time. All this is not acceptable. People of Kerala have a certain sentiment for Ayyappa. Therefore, all of us need to respect that," added the minister.
Activist Rehana Fathima, the women Mr Alphons referred to, tried to visit the temple on October 19. She had completed the five-kilometre walk, carrying the offerings on her head, and reached close to the holy steps but was unable to proceed further. Ms Fathima's house in Kochi was also vandalized by protesters. A day later, a Christian woman, Mary Sweety began the trek but had to stop midway after being heckled by protesters. She said she had visited churches, mosques, temples and "wanted to see Lord Ayyappa".
Since the Sabarimala shrine opened on October 18, for the first time after the Supreme Court's landmark verdict of allowing women of menstruating age at the temple, at least 12 women attempted to visit the hilltop shrine but none of them were successful. While some were heckled, threatened and forced down the hills, the others voluntarily aborted their trek following intimidation by protesters.
Mr Alphons slammed the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for his remarks against BJP chief Amit Shah. Mr Vijayan, on Saturday, said that the statement made by Amit Shah on Sabarimala in Kannur was against the constitution and law of the land and the "agenda of the RSS and Sangh Parivar is not to guarantee people their rights.
Mr Shah had warned of "toppling" the Kerala government for arresting devotees protesting Mr Vijayan's decision to implement the Supreme Court's order on Sabarimala. He said the BJP was "standing like a rock" with the devotees. "Amit Shah who threatened to topple our government should remember that this government came to power, not at the mercy of BJP, but the people's mandate. His message is to sabotage the people's mandate", the Chief Minister lashed out.