Women’s entry: Was there any hidden agenda, asks Kerala High Court

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KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the state government to clarify whether there was a hidden agenda in facilitating the visit of two young women to Sabarimala. The state government should also clarify whether the young women who worshipped there are devotees.

The Bench comprising Justice P R Ramachandra Menon and Justice N Anilkumar made the oral observation when a report filed by the High Court-appointed Observer’s panel and Special Commissioner regarding the entry of the two young women- Bindhu and Kanaka Durga – came up for hearing.

In the report, the Special Commissioner informed the two women have not ascended the holy 18 steps and had accessed the upper Thirumattam through the staff gate of the Sannidhanam complex on January 2. The Commissioner submitted persons who are opposed to the entry of young women devotees have become more active in Sannidhanam and Pampa now. At present, the number of pilgrims is about one lakh per day. “It is felt the developments are indicative of aggravation of risks and dangers involved in providing special police protection to the young women devotees, particularly when the inflow is expected to increase during the remaining period of the Makaravilakku festival,” stated the report.

The Bench orally observed it has been a smooth pilgrimage for Ayyappa devotees after the intervention of the HC and the appointment of observers. In fact, the number of pilgrims visiting the temple had gone up to 1 lakh per day and there was absolutely no problem at Sabarimala.

The court asked whether the visit of two women was an attempt to create problems and put the blame on the government and the police. The court also said it will examine whether there was any involvement of external forces. If the government could not give satisfactory clarification in all aspects, the court may have to consider ordering a probe by the Central agencies in this matter. The court directed the state to file a statement on January 16. The court said Sabarimala was a place for pilgrimage and not a place for demonstrations of the police or government or any other activist.

The Commissioner further informed that Pavanraj, a devotee from Tamil Nadu, pelted stones at a bus from Andhra Pradesh thinking that it was carrying young women on January 3. Later, he was arrested and released on bail. On January 4, at about 9.30 am a transgender came to Pampa to proceed to Sannidhanam for darshan. Transgenders had darshan several times earlier without any resistance. However, this time, there were some protests at Pampa, following which a transgender returned.

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