Sabarimala tense as woman nears temple, shows Aadhaar to prove she’s 52
Sabarimala row: The woman, later identified as Lalitha, claimed she is older than 50 years of age but protesters said she was lying. She was forced to show her Aadhaar card to prove her age and police said she is 52 years old.
Fresh protests marred the one-day special pilgrimage in Sabarimala temple in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta on Tuesday after a woman was heckled by protesters over her age, prompting chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to accuse outfits affiliated to the Sangh Parivar of trying to “foil the communal fabric of the state”.
“The government will deal with troublemakers sternly,” Vijayan said.
Protesters said 52-year-old Lalitha from Thrissur, who reached near the 18 holy steps of the hilltop shrine, was lying about her age. She was forced to show her Aadhaar card to prove her age and police backed her claim about her age.
The protesters later apologised to her and lead her to the hilltop temple for a darshan. A cameraperson of Amrita TV was also injured in the protests.
Twelve other women pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh were also prevented from trekking up to the temple but were later allowed to proceed after protestors were convinced that all of them were above the age of 50 years. Police, which have heightened the security in and around the shrine for Lord Ayyappa, said they have their limitation while controlling the angry devotees.
Thousands of devotees have trekked to the Sabarimala temple after it opened on Monday for a one-day ritual as thousands of police personnel, including women officers, kept a watch on the hilltop temple that witnessed large-scale violence last month by protesters against the Supreme Court ruling allowing women of menstrual age into the shrine. More than 5,000 worshipers trekked to the temple on Friday.
The temple was opened for Sree Chithira Attathirunal pooja, an offering to honour the last king of the erstwhile Travancore dynasty Sree Chithira Tirunal Balarama Varma.
The Left government in Kerala has announced it will implement the top court’s ruling pitting it against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and numerous Hindu groups which have been up in arms against the September 28 verdict.
Meanwhile, the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB), responsible for the administration of the 800-year-old temple, on Friday sought an explanation from the tantri or the chief priest after the leaked speech of the president of the BJP’s state unit PS Sreedharan Pillai sparked the latest round of verbal exchanges between Kerala’s ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) and groups affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) over the shrine.
In the video, Pillai is apparently heard saying the BJP planned and executed the agitation in Sabarimala against the temple being thrown open to women of all ages. He is also heard saying he was in touch with Kandarau when two women came close to the shrine in October. Kandarau has denied the reports.
Kandarau eventually threatened to close the temple if the women entered the sanctum sanctorum.
“He asked me whether shutting the doors of the temple will invite contempt of court. I told him if customs were violated, he was free to do it,” Pillai later admitted.
His speech at a Bhartiya Yuva Morcha conference in Kozhikkode was deliberately leaked to create confusion among devotees, he added.