Kerala

Sabarimala protests; Kerala Police releases photos of suspects

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Police has released photographs of over 200 people suspected to have been involved in the protests at Sabarimala to prevent the entry of women of menstrual age into the Lord Ayyappa shrine last week.

Special teams would be formed in all districts to identify the suspects whose photographs were released on Wednesday, police sources said.

Pathnamthitta district police chief T Narayanan said a list of 210 people, suspected to have taken part in the protests and their photographs have been sent to Superintendents of Police of various districts for identification.

Meanwhile, as part of steps to beef up security at the ‘Sannidhanam’ (temple complex), it has been decided to deploy 5,000 additional police personnel during the three month-long ‘mandalam-makaravillaku’ season starting on November 17.

The number of police personnel at Sannidhanam, Pamba and Nilakkal would also be increased and more CCTV cameras would be installed, a police press note said.

The temple had witnessed high drama recently with around a dozen women in the 10-50 age group being prevented by protesting devotees from entering it after the doors were opened for all women following the apex court verdict.

Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakkampally Surendran Thursday claimed that effective police intervention had foiled the protestors’ bid to “desecrate” the Ayyappa Temple by spilling blood in the premises if women devotees in the 10-50 age group offered prayers.

He said the “conspiracy” of the devotees was made clear by Ayyappa Dharma Sena president Rahul Easwar, who had said that the faithful had plans to make the Lord Ayyappa shrine “impure” by spilling blood on its premises, forcing its closure if young girls and women devotees tried to enter the shrine.

“This was a planned attempt to desecrate the holy temple, but effective police intervention defeated their efforts,” Surendran told reporters.

Easwar, who belongs to the Thazhamon family of Sabarimala tantris (priests), had said they had drawn up a contingency plan to force the closure of the temple in case young devotees in the “barred” age group managed to reach the shrine for darshan.

The Minister said this disclosure showed that there was a well-conceived plan, similar to that followed by nations to attack their enemies and added that this attempt was not only seditious, but also against the interest of devotees.

Rahul Easwar had said that the faithful were prepared to inflict knife injuries on themselves on the temple premises, which would have forced the priests to close the gates.

The temple had witnessed high drama with around a dozen women in 10-50 age group being prevented from entering the temple by protesting devotees after the doors were opened for all women following the apex court verdict.

PTI

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