INSIDE SABARIMALA: Two women activists reach near the Sannidhanam, but turn back following strong protests from devotees


PAMBA: Two young women activists who climbed up the Sabarimala Hills and reached near the Sannidhanam with police help this morning, faced stiff resistance from the throng of devotees and parikarmis of the temple, forcing their return by 11pm. The two women — journalist Kavitha from Hyderabad and Rehna Fathima from Kochi — could not go close to the temple, as a tense situation arose. 

Tanthri Kandaru Rajeevaru threatened the police and Travancore Devaswom Board administering the temple that if the two women were allowed into the Sannidhanam, he would close the temple, hand over the keys to the office, and climb down the 18 steps of the Sree Ayyappa Shrine. At this point, the police started efforts to break the deadlock. 

Kandaru took the decision after he spoke to the Pandalam ‘Palace” head, the symbolic patrons of the shrine, and Thazhamon Madhom (tanthri family) representatives. 

As the situation further tensed up at the Sannidhaham, the two women were taken by the police to the Inspection Bungalow near the Sannidhanam, while the parikarmis sat in a prayer protest outside the temple.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran intervened in the matter and asked the police to act in a responsible manner without hurting the sentiments of the faithful. He said the government stood by the apex court order but did not have the responsibility to give protection to activists of any kind. It would instead protect the faith of the devotees, he stressed. 

IG Sreejit told the media thereafter that the cops would escort the two women out of Sabarimala. Their safety would be ensured. The two women, who initially refused to return, later said they did not want to take matters to a head and would return, Sreejit said. 

The two young women reached Pamba last night, before midnight, and sought police support to climb the Sabarimala hills for prayers. Police took them this morning with head shield and other protective cover. They could, however, not go beyond the Nadapandal near the Sannidhanam. –IHN-NN

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