The mandalam season will prove to be a serious problem for the Kerala Government to surmount with already 539 women in the 10-50 age group registering to make the pilgrimage.
They are among the 3 lakh pilgrims who have applied online for the pilgrimage through the Kerala police portal to be in the virtual queue.
According to top police sources, this has been brought to the notice of the Director General of Police. This becomes significant as during the opening of the shrine in mid-October for the Thulam puja, there were violent protests by the BJP-RSS and other Hindu organisations. On November 5 when the temple opened for a day for Chithira Aattavishesham, protestors outnumbered a mighty police force and even turned their ire against mediapersons. Despite prohibitory orders, protestor numbers kept swelling and police are now trying to trace their forest route as their pictures were not captured on the CCTV cameras installed at Pamba, the last camp from where pilgrims trek to the temple.
With the season set to start on November 16 and would go on till mid-January, maintaining law and order would be a big hurdle for the police. There will then be three entry points to the Sannidhanam. The BJP-RSS combine has already announced that it would do all to keep women, bolstered by the Supreme Court verdict allowing those in all age groups to worship at the shrine, away.
Already, Hindu outfits have been successful so far twice and this should give them strength to take forward their protests. For the Government, it has sworn by the apex court verdict and will do all within its means to 'emerge victorious’.
Police are checking details of the women applicants as some have also booked for the KSRTC bus services.