“Sabarimala A War Zone, Pilgrims Being Treated Like Dacoits”: Minister

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The minister said there were no toilets and all the three sheds at Nilackal are waterlogged.

Nilackal/Pamba:

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

"They have imposed Section 144 (prohibitory orders). The pilgrims are being treated like dacoits. Where is the basic infrastructure…this is pathetic," the minister, who arrived here to take stock of the facilities at the hill shrine, told reporters.

"The state government has turned the temple complex into a war zone. The devotees are not militants, they are pilgrims," he said.

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Restrictions have been imposed at the temple complex following protests by activists of the BJP, RSS and right-wing outfits over the state government's decision to implement the September 28 Supreme Court order allowing the entry of women of all ages into the shrine.

"The state government must take responsibility…The Union Tourism ministry had given Rs 100 crore…They have not spent even a rupee..," Mr Kannanthanam said.

The Union minister visited Nilackal, the base camp, Pamba and Sannidhanam Monday morning, hours after police removed around 200-odd people who had gathered at the temple complex late Sunday night. They held "nama japam" (chanting the name of Lord Ayyappa) protest against the police restrictions. The police had also taken into custody 68 protestors Sunday night.

The CPI(M)-led LDF government is making life difficult for all the pilgrims coming here, the minister said.

"This is like the Stalin era of the Soviet Union," he said.

"Sabarimala is one of the biggest pilgrims centre in the country. Here, everyone lives peacefully. This government is determined to ensure that people do not have the right to their belief," the minister said.

Pointing out that there was no basic facilities at Pamba, he said there were no toilets and all the three sheds at Nilackal are waterlogged.

"What is the intention of the government? They want to make sure the pilgrims are not provided with basic facilities. What is happening with law and order? Section 144? Is this a democracy?" Mr Kannanthanam said.

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