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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Four transgenders stopped on way to Sabarimala, sent back

The four identified as Ananya, Triputhi, Avantika and Ranjumol were stopped at Erumeli police station citing law and order problems.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2018 12:44 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Devotees queue up to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.
Devotees queue up to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. (PTI)
         

Kerala police stopped four transgenders who tried to trek to the hill temple Sabaimala early on Sunday.

The four identified as Ananya, Triputhi, Avantika and Ranjumol were stopped at Erumeli police station citing law and order problems.

Ananya, who led the group, said police threatened them when they insisted on visiting the temple, saying there was no ban on transgenders at the hill temple.

“Police threatened to put us in jail. One of them even said they can consider our plea if we come in male dress. They insulted us. We were detained at the station for four hours and forced to take a bus back to Kottayam,” she said.

“We want to trek to Sabarimala with our identity. Only women of menstruating age are barred here and we told police, it was not applicable to us. But they insisted we can’t trek to the temple in women’s attire. They questioned our existence and insulted us,” Ananya said, adding she will appeal to the state transgender justice board and other authorities against the police decision.

Refuting the claim that police threatened or misbehaved with the transgenders, Kottayam superintendent of police, S Harishankar said the police will seek the help of the expert panel appointed by the Kerala High Court. “We need some clarity. We will ask the HC-appointed panel’s advice.”

The transgender community has also decided to carry out protest marches throughout the state.

Meanwhile, a group of women from Chennai, all in the age group of 30-40 years, have approached the state government to provide police protection to worship at the temple.

Part of an organisation called ‘Manithi’, they said they will start on December 22 and reach the hill temple next day. They said all pilgrims were observing a fast for 41 days and they wish to undertake pilgrimage like any other male devotee.

The hilltop shrine in Pathanamthitta district has been witnessing violent protests by a section of devotees and right-wing groups since the September 28 Supreme Court verdict, which allowed women of all ages to worship at the temple.

As the shrine opened for the annual pilgrimage on November 17, the state government imposed many restrictions at the hilltop and the base camps to tackle protesters and deployed more than 10,000 police personnel.

The state also witnessed three shutdowns over the issue and an uneasy calm is prevailing at the temple. A devotee had immolated himself two days back in the state capital and BJP is observing a fast for more than two weeks. The top court will take up a bunch of review petitions against its verdict on January 22.

Also Read: There is more to Sabarimala than just faith

First Published: Dec 16, 2018 11:54 IST

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