Sabarimala: Hours ahead of the one-day special pilgrimage of the Sabarimala temple, devotees facing Kerala Police’s questions and checking protested on Monday. The famed temple that witnessed massive protests against the September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowing hitherto banned age group of girls and women to enter the Lord Ayyappa shrine, saw many devotees complain and shout slogans as the police stopped them for checking.
At 8 a.m., the police opened the barricade and started allowing devotees to walk to Pamba — the base town of the temple. With the shrine set to open at 5 p.m., hundreds of pilgrims at Nilackal and Erumely were seen arguing as they faced repeated obstacles from the police from advancing. What irked them most was the insistence to check their identity proofs and answer questions as they tried to reach the sanctum sanctorum that would close at 10 p.m. on Tuesday.
At Erumely, all pilgrim vehicles were stopped. The devotees protested and shouted Lord Ayyappa slogans as they arrived at a bus depot of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), demanding transport to proceed to the hilltop shrine. The arrangements at the temple town is such that all pilgrims arriving on their vehicles have to get down at Nilackal and then take a KSRTC bus to Pamba, about 20 km, and then start the trek to the temple, situated on a hilltop. The temple town is witnessing one of its stringent security arrangements. There were more than 2,300 police officials posted at various point up the pilgrimage path after the state tookover the shrine’s security on Saturday. Several metal detectors have been kept at a various points and crowd combating arrangements were also in place. The media was allowed to go up the pathway at 9.15 a.m. (IANS)