Sabarimala crisis: Police tense, looks up to Supreme Court

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | ARJUN RAGHUNATH
Published Nov 8, 2018, 1:17 am IST
Updated Nov 8, 2018, 1:17 am IST
Hopes court may give reasonable time for effecting order on Nov. 13.
Supreme Court
 Supreme Court

Thiruvananthapuram: Hardly eight days to go for the annual Mandala season at Sabarimala, the state police pins its hopes on the Supreme Court when it hears a set of review petitions on the entry of young women at the sannidhanam on November 13.

The police on Wednesday arrested one Sooraj, 29, of Elanthur in Pathanamthitta in connection with the attempt to prevent 52 year old Lalitha at Sannidhanam on Tuesday.

 

Pathanamthitta district police chief T. Narayanan said that the other accused were being identified with the help of video footage of the tension at Sannidhanam on Tuesday. A case was registered against 200 persons. Non-bailable sections of Indian Penal Code 308 for attempt to commit culpable homicide, 354 for use of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty as well as rioting charges were being invoked.

From the video footage of the tensions on Tuesday, the police are trying to identify whether there any repeated offenders. In that case, the police would also press for denying bail to them.

From the experiences during the five days Thulam month poojas at Sabarimala last month as the Sree Chithira Attathirunal this week, many police officers felt that a major section of police personnel has a mental block in discharging their duty at Sabarimala owing to their deep rooted religious beliefs. Hence the state may also seek service of central para-military forces at Sabarimala.

“We are now going ahead with the plans we already made. Further steps like seeking central forces would be made only after SC proceedings on November 13,” police sources said.

A large section of police officers strongly feel that in view of the serious law and order issues at Sabarimala during last month as well as this week, the Supreme Court may give at least a reasonable time for implementing the order lifting restriction on entry of women in the 10 to 50 age group. “A good number of police personnel who are deployed for duty at Sannidhanam are those taking 41-days penance. We can’t expect a sincere action from such police personnel against the frenzied devotees of agitators who are opposing entry of women, especially since it was matter of religious belief,” police sources said.

Another serious issue being faced by the police in restricting entry of pilgrims to Sannidharan was the vast forest area and the forest paths. Even on Tuesday as large number of sangh parivar activists were learnt to have reached Sannidhanam through the forest areas of Vandiperiyar and Erumeli. The forest department were not much cooperative in curbing this. The special branch had also alerted in advanced about the chances of activist reaching Sabarimala through the forests, police sources said.

Thrissur-range IG M. R. Ajithkumar, who was in charge of security at Sannidhanam on Tuesday, was learnt to have told higher-ups that RSS hardcore leader Valsan Thillenkery was allowed to address the frenzied mob as a bid to calm down the situation and avoid a police action at Sannidhanam.

State police chief Loknath Behera is learnt to have convened a meeting of senior police officials on Thursday to have a review of the Sabarimala security arrangements.

SC petitions: TDB to decide on Friday

 No major decisions were taken at the Travancore Devaswom Board meeting held at the board headquarters here on Wednesday. It will hold another sitting at 10 a.m. on Friday when a decision will be taken on the further course of action to be taken in the Supreme Court when it will consider the review petitions and writ petitions on November 13. A final call will be taken on who would be the counsel for the TDB at the meeting.

TDB devaswom board member K. P. Sankaradas stated that he had not violated any custom prevailing at the Sabarimala temple. He had allegedly taken the 18 holy steps without carrying the 'irumudikettu'.

"It was as part of the ritual that I had taken the 18 holy steps. The customs and rituals are different. But what the RSS leader Valsan Thillankeri did at Sabarimala was definitely violation of the custom," he said. He added that padipooja is just a ritual and that he had accompanied those who went to light the 'Aazhi'.

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