No safe journey for young women to Sabarimala

Kerala
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TRIVANDRUM: Thursday’s Supreme Court verdict referring the women’s entry issue in Sabarimala temple in Kerala without a stay on the original September 28, 2018 verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the temple has put the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front government in a tight spot.

 

The government fears recurrence of violent incidents in the hill shrine with some women outfits and activists stating that they would visit temple during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku season beginning from Saturday on the basis of the Supreme Court verdict and the right wing outfits threatening to stop them from climbing the hill.

Large-scale violence had erupted at Sabarimala when the government had facilitated the entry of women belonging to the prohibited age group of 10 to 50 as per its gender neutrality policy during the last season. If the government continues the policy, Sabarimala will once again turn into a conflict zone. If it fails to provide protection to young women coming for darshan, it will tantamount to contempt of court.

The opposition parties have advised the government not to facilitate the entry of women based on the 2018 verdict upholding the spirit of the current verdict referring the review petitions to a larger seven-judge constitution bench.  

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said that the coming season will end in conflicts if the state government try to take any young women to Sabarimala with the help of the police. Senior BJP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan warned of dire consequences if the government took the initiative to allow women to trek Sabarimala.

Caught between the two, the government has decided to seek clarification from legal experts on allowing women to enter the temple.

“There is ambiguity. The verdict has created more confusion and its implication needs to be understood in depth. We will consult legal experts and formulate a stand. Whatever the verdict, the government is bound to implement that”, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media on Thursday evening.

When asked what the stand of the government will be if young women pilgrims reach the temple in during pilgrimage season, Vijayan told the media that it will be decided on the basis of the clarifications received from the experts.  

However, State Law Minister AK Balan said that the government may not provide security and protection to young women pilgrim going to Sabarimala. He said that the verdict was very complex and it created more trouble to the government.

A Times of India report said that an understanding not to facilitate the entry of women has been reached in the higher echelons of the government. Though such a stand won’t be overtly announced, the police will be given a clear directive to dissuade women pilgrims at entry points itself.

The police have already made elaborate security arrangements ahead of the commencement of the pilgrim season. As many as 10,017 police officials will provide security for Sabarimala in five phases. Sabarimala and surrounding regions have been declared as special security zones and the government has warned that any attempt to create trouble will be dealt with sternly.

Image Credit: Statesman

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