The Sabarimala shrine is expected to open at 5 pm today for a special puja due tomorrow
Sabarimala: Around 2,300 security personnel, including a 20-member commando team and 100 women, have been called in at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala that opens today for two days, weeks after violent protests against the entry of women of all ages into the shrine. This is the second time the hill temple will open for devotees after the Supreme Court in late September allowed women of all ages to enter it, overruling those who believe that women aged between 10 and 50 should not visit the shrine dedicated to a celibate God Lord Ayyappa. Here is your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
- Since Saturday, the police have banned gatherings of four or more people in Sabarimala and nearby areas and said they hope to ensure "smooth" darshan and security of devotees. If necessary, around 30 women police personnel in the rank of circle inspector and sub inspector and above the age of 50 would be sent to the temple complex for security, they said.
- Last month, the temple saw protests and blockades preventing around a dozen women from reaching it as demonstrators and cops clashed over the communist state government's decision to implement the court order. Journalists too faced attacks from protesters.
- The shrine is expected to open at 5 pm today for a special puja due tomorrow and will close at 10 pm after it.
- Ayyappa devotees from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have already reached Erumeli and they will be permitted to go to 'sannidhanam' today.
- Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the state government would ensure complete protection to believers. So far no women in the 10-50 age group had approached police for protection to offer prayers at the hill shrine, he said.
- The Sabarimala Karma Samiti, a platform of right-wing outfits, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, appealed to media houses not to send women journalists, who fall in that age group, to cover the developments in Sabarimala.
- The samiti alleged that even though the Supreme Court has decided to hear the review and writ petitions on the issue on November 13, the state government was intentionally ignoring the "mass movement" against the judgement and was trying to "hastily" enforce it using police force.
- Activist Rahul Easwar, president of Ayyappa Dharma Sena that is among the outfits spearheading the protests, in a video message said, "Like police, we are also fully prepared".
- Mr Easwar, belonging to the Thazhamon family of Sabarimala thantris, is out on bail after being arrested twice last month in connection with the protests in and around Sabarimala against the government's decision to implement the court verdict and also for making provocative remarks.
- About 3,700 people have been arrested and 545 cases registered in connection with last month's violence.
(with inputs from PTI)