The Kerala government has stepped up security arrangements as thousands of Lord Ayyappa devotees on Saturday hit the streets of Kochi against the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups into Sabarimala temple. The devotees also said they will stop activist Trupti Desai, who has announced that she will visit the hill shrine soon.
Peringammala Aji, a member of the Shiv Sena Kerala unit, told news agency ANI that their women squad will gather near the Pamba River on October 17 and 18 as part of their so-called suicide group if any young woman tries to enter the shrine.
“Our women activists will gather near the Pamba River on October 17 and 18 as part of a suicide group. When any young woman tries to enter Sabarimala, our activists will commit suicide,” Aji said.
The protesters marched through the streets of Kochi while holding placards bearing pictures of Lord Ayyappa and chanted his hymns. The Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, which decided to implement the ruling, held a meeting here to evaluate the preparations carried out for pilgrims arriving at the temple which will open for monthly poojas on October 17 evening.
Meanwhile, Padalam royal family member Sasikumar Varma slammed Desai, urging her to refrain from making any "provocative' move. He also asked the Left government to take steps to prevent any law and order situation.Earlier in the day 'Bhumata Brigade' leader Desai said in Mumbai that she along with a group of women would visit the temple "shortly" to offer prayers. "We will visit Sabarimala shortly. The ongoing agitation by devotees is the violation of the Supreme Court verdict. I appeal the agitating devotees to welcome those women who come for worship at the hill shrine," she told Malayalam TV channels.
Meanwhile, the 'Long March' led by BJP-headed National Democratic Alliance (NDA) reached Kollam district Saturday. Activist Rahul Easwar, who already announced hunger strike at Sabarimala during the five-day monthly pooja period, said they would stop Trupti Desai if she attempts to visit the Lord Ayyappa Temple.The Supreme Court on September 28 struck down the centuries-old rule that barred women between 10 and 50 years of age to enter the shrine of Lord Ayyappa.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by former Chief Justice Dipak Misra has observed that “on one hand, women are worshipped as Goddesses, but there are restrictions on the other hand. Relationship with God can’t be defined by biological or physiological factors”.
Though four judges, including Justice Misra, had the same opinion in the Sabarimala temple case, Justice Indu Malhotra had given one dissenting opinion into the same. The other justices on the bench included RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud.
(With PTI inputs)