Manithi group returns to Madurai, plans to approach Court for police protection

Manithi group returns to Madurai, plans to approach Court for police protection

Agency News

Sabarimala, Dec 23 : The 11-member young women group of Chennai-based women rights organization – Manithi - returned to Madurai in Tamil Nadu following the failure of their attempt to trek the world famous Lord Ayyappa temple here on Sunday.

Talking to newspersons here, Maniti activist Selvi said they dropped their plan to visit the temple following a police advice citing law and order in the surrounding areas of the hillock temple.

"We will approach the court for police protection before coming next time here for Darshan" she added.

Meanwhile, Superintendent of Police Karthikeyan, who is in-charge of Pamba, said ''the 11-member young women group returned back on their own even as the police were ready to provide protection for them''.

He clarified that the police also have the responsibility to ensure security for children and old people who are in large numbers reached here for worship.

In the morning, tension prevailed in Pamba when hundreds of devotees opposed the entry of young women group. The trouble started when the police arrested several agitating devotees, who opposed the entry of young women group, citing the violation of prohibitory order clamped under section 144 of CrPC.

Following strong resistance from the agitating devotees, the police brought the women group to Pamba police station.Later, police arrested several devotees and charged cases against hundreds of people who opposed the entry of young women group, based on a complaint from the Maniti activists at the police station here.

The women group dropped their plan when hundreds of devotees chased them at the trekking path.Earlier, the 11-member young women group staged a dharna seeking police protection to trek the hill shrine.

“Police are asking us to go back in view of protests. But we won't go back without darshan. We will wait here till we are allowed to trek the hills,” Selvi told reporters.The priests of Pamba Ganapathy temple also refused their request to perform poojas on the customary 'Irumudikettu'.

Earlier, they faced protest on their arrival at Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, near Theni. Around ten police vehicles escorted the group which came through Idukki-Kambamedu route from Theni. However, they had to face protests at various places on their way.

The police took them to Pamba without stopping at Nilackal, the base camp of the hillock temple.

"Priests of the local temple at Pamba did not cooperate with us and declined to get our customary 'Irumudikettu' (sacred offering to the God) ready as per custom. So we did it on our own," Selvi said.

Of the 11 women, six carried the traditional 'Irumudikettu' which is mandatory to climb the 18-holy steps leading to sanctum sanctorum.

The activists of Sabarimala Karma Samiti alleged that the police was acting on the direction from MV Jayarajan, Private Secretary of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, to break the traditions and customs of the world famous Lord Ayyappa temple.

They alleged that a large number of police personnel were deputed at Pamba, Marakkuttam and Sannidhanam to implement the September 28 Supreme Court Verdict allowing the entry of women of all ages into Lord Ayyappa temple.

In another development, in support of Chennai-based women rights organization, Maniti, a 20-member Adivasi women group from Kerala reached Erumely to visit the temple.Though the Adivasi women group from Kerala led by Ammini began the journey to Erumely, she was stopped at Pala by agitating devotees led by BJP men. Later, police arrested the protestors from the spot.

Talking to newspersons at Pala, she said three members of their group already reached Erumely, from there they are waiting to treck with sufficient police protection.However, she was sent back after police officials met her and informed about security issues.There were unconfirmed reports that the Central Intelligence had sent a note to the Home Department that the activists are associated with Maoist groups in other states.

Meanwhile, Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said the high-level panel appointed by the High Court will take a suitable decision on the entry of Maniti group.But, soon after the Minister's comment, the Committee clarified that they have no power to decide on the entry of women into the temple, and the Government has the responsibility to take a decision on security matters in connection with the women entry. (UNI)