A 29-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday for the alleged assault of a woman pilgrim at the Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala as he suspected her to be of menstrual age. Identified as Sooraj, who hails from Elanthur in Pathanamthitta district, was one among the main accused in the incident which took place on Tuesday during the two-day-long ‘Chithira Atta Thirunal’, a special ritual for which the hill shrine was opened.
Hundreds of hysterical pilgrims had tried to attack and hold back the 52-year-old woman, Lalitha Ravi, from entering or offering prayers at the temple.
The man was held under non-bailable charges – IPC 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), the police said.
An investigation is on to nab the remaining accused, Pathanamthitta SP, T Narayanan, told PTI.
Police had lodged cases against 200 ‘identifiable’ persons who were trying to prevent Lalitha from performing the ‘choorunu’ (rice giving) ceremony of her grandchild. She was even forbidden from offering prayers.
A huge crowd of devotees circled around Lalitha suspecting her to be of menstrual age while clapping and chanting ‘Ayyappa Saranam’. However, she was rescued as the police intervened the scene.
The woman showed her Aadhaar card to them to prove that she did not belong to the ‘traditionally barred’ age group of 10-50 years.
The police later escorted her to the temple to offer prayers along with other women relatives.
Since the Supreme Court had allowed the entry of women of all age groups in Sabarimala, this was the second time in the last three weeks that the doors to the shrine were opened.