Union Minister Kannamthanam, BJP leaders to visit Sabarimala

Whereas state's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan made it clear that the Left government was with the believers.

In the wake of protests carried out against her visit at the Kochi airport, the activist said that Kerala police advised her to go back to Pune.

The VHP leader said essential services and vehicles of Ayyappa devotees will not be affected by the hartal. The BJP and RSS workers had gathered in front of Cliff House-the official residence of the chief minister-at Nanthancode in Thiruvananthapuram. "The government can not let anyone create trouble at Sabarimala", Vijayan said at the state conference of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ).

Union Minister KJ Alphons after visiting Pamba base camp told the media that, even the basic facilities provided in there are not complete and numerous toilets are not clean and unhealthy. "Devotees are not terrorists, why do they need 15,000 policemen here".

"Pilgrims are being treated like dacoits".

Section 144 declared around the holy shrine and in Pathanamthitta district. "Section 144 is imposed for no reason", ANI quoted him as saying.

The minister said there was lack of basic facilities at the temple complex, adding the Centre had provided Rs 100 crore for putting up various facilities at Sabarimala.

They threw stones at the police and assaulted female journalists and attacked their cars.

Close to 70 were taken into preventive custody at the Sabarimala temple late on Sunday night after fresh protests broke out at the Nadapanthal area in Sannidhanam, where hundreds of devotees agitated against police restrictions.

Narrating her ordeal, Desai said that cab drivers were not ready to take her and her 7-member team to Sabarimala fearing agitation. However, Desai declined to reveal her final plans for the time being.

"Unprecedented security and efforts of the State authorities have not discouraged the protestors from threatening and impeding the women devotees from paying obeisance at the Sabarimala temple..." "Police tried to evacuate us from another gate but protesters were there as well".

Police sources claimed they had information that the protesters might create trouble at Sannidhanam and therefore, precautions were taken accordingly.

No girl or woman pilgrim in the 10-50 year age group has been abe to offer prayers so far following stiff resistance by devotees and activists, opposing any change in the temple traditions.

Sasikala had been taken into preventive custody from near the temple premises two days ago for flouting police regulations and had been released after being produced before the magistrate.

Hindu Aikya Vedi leader KP Sasikala and BJP general secretary K Surendran were refused permission to go to Sannidhanam on 16 and 17 November and arrested as per this move. Police had asked to disperse after the Harivarasanam but majority refused.

Speaking to the media at Nilackal, Alphons on Monday said: "I fail to understand why the Kerala Police has clamped prohibitory orders".

It sought the details of the police officials deployed at the Sannidhanam and their experience in Sabarimala pilgrim management.

This came a day after the Lord Ayyappa shrine reopened for 62-day annual pilgrimage season.

  • Rogelio Becker