Kerala Police Defies Supreme Court Order, Stop 12-Year-Old From Entering Sabarimala Temple
On Tuesday, the Kerala Police stopped a 12-year-old girl from entering the Sabarimala temple and took her to another room, while her family proceeded with the trek to the temple.
Women constables stopped the Puducherry girl, along with her father at the police control room in Pamba – the entry point to the hilly trek, five km from the shrine. While the girl’s age was registered as 10 in the virtual queue facility, her identity card mentioned her age as 12 years.
TV channels showed the girl to be weeping as her family proceeded with the trek with the girl’s ‘irumudikettu’ (offerings to the deity). The girl was shifted to a room with women constables until her family came back.
The two-month-long Mandala Makkarvillakku festival of the Lord Ayappa temple in Pathanamthitta district in Kerala had begun on Sunday, November 17. For security purposes, over 10,000 police personnel were stationed in and around the temple premises.
Contempt Of Court
On Thursday, November 14, in a 3:2 verdict, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had referred the review petitions challenging the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple to a larger, seven-judge bench. However, there is no stay on the September 28, 2018, Supreme Court judgement that allowed women of all ages to worship at the temple.
Despite the court’s orders, the Kerala police have not allowed women to enter the shrine since the pilgrimage began early this week. On Monday, two women in the age group of 10-50 years were stopped by the police from entering the temple. While on Saturday, when the temple opened in the evening, 10 women from Andhra Pradesh were sent back by the police.
However, the police continue to claim that women are not being barred from entering the temple.
“The police, after confirming their ages by checking ID cards explain to women about the ongoing issues, and all of them cooperate and return without any hassles. We are not blocking them. The situation is peaceful here, and devotees don’t have any issues with the trek up to the temple,” SP Sabu Mathew, the special officer in charge of police deployment at Pamba was quoted by The Times Of India.
He added that, while many women belonging to the barred age group are reaching Pamba mostly as part of pilgrim tour groups, none have tried to climb the hill to Sannidhanam.
Meanwhile, in a u-turn, the ruling LDF(Left Democratic Front) government has denied protection to women who want to enter the temple. Kadakampally Surendran, Kerala Minister for Co-Operation, Tourism and Devaswom, on Friday said that the shrine was not a place for activism and any woman who wishes to enter should get a court order.
“We have made it clear that it is not the government’s job to take women to the temple,” state law minister A K Balan, was quoted by Hindustan Times.