The Sabarimala temple in Kerala. 

Sabarimala: Controversy Erupts Over Kerala Govt’s Affidavit in SC

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Two women who were on their way to the Sabarimala temple were stopped by protesters at Neelimala in Kerala on Wednesday, 16 January.

On 8 January, the Kerala High Court had said that the state government should be able to identify those with a ‘hidden agenda’ who intended to disrupt peace at the shrine.

(Get live updates on the Sabarimala row here.)

  • On 2 January, two women – Bindu and Kanakadurga – had entered the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple to offer prayers
  • The shrine was closed for “purification rituals” hours after the women entered the shrine
  • On 28 September 2018, the Supreme Court had lifted the ban on the entry of women of menstruating age (between 10-50) at the Sabarimala temple
  • Both BJP as well as Congress workers have been protesting against the verdict

Cong, BJP Hit out at CPI(M)-Led LDF Govt for 'Lying in the Affidavit'

Strongly reacting to the CPI(M)-led LDF government’s submission of an affidavit in the apex court, the main opposition Congress and the BJP hit out at the state government, alleging it was lying in the affidavit, PTI reported.

BJP state President P S Sreedharan Pillai termed the government's submission as "the biggest lie of the century."

"In case if anyone had visited the temple, they should have come openly. Everything should have been done in a transparent manner. The CPI(M) and the government had failed in the Sabarimala issue and this was an attempt to hide it. They are fooling people," Pillai told PTI.

The Congress also trained its guns on the LDF government, saying the state administration had became "a laughing stock after submitting erroneous and misguiding affidavit."

"This submission of wrong affidavit has brought shame to the state. The Chief Minister was responsible for this," PTI quoted KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran as saying.

Controversy Erupts over Kerala Govt's Affidavit in Supreme Court

Controversy erupted in Kerala after the CPI(M)-led LDF government on Friday, 18 January, submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court claiming 51 women in menstrual age entered the Sabarimala temple during the ongoing annual pilgrimage season.

The BJP, the Sabarimala Karma Samiti and the Pandalam royal family, associated with the Lord Ayyappa temple, came down heavily on the state government saying there were discrepancies in the age of the women devotees mentioned in the affidavit.

“7,564 women had registered online for visiting the hill-top shrine. As per the virtual 'queue' facility reports, 51 women between the age group of 10-50 have visited the temple. However, we don't know whether all of them have managed to reach the Sannidhanam (temple complex) and offered prayers or not," news agency PTI quoted Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran as saying in Thiruvananthapuram.

Two Women Stopped by Protesters at Neelimala

Two women below the age of 50, Reshma Nishanth and Shanila Satheesh, who attempted to make the trek to Sabarimala temple early Wednesday morning, were stopped by protesters at the hill. Nisha and Shanila were among the three women who organised the press conference in Kochi in November 2018, to express their wish to visit the Sabarimala temple.

Reshma and Shanila reached Neelimala along with seven other men in their team. However, around 4.30 am, they were stopped by protesters. Due to the growing protests, they were forced to stop their trek despite heavy police protection. After almost 3 to 4 hours of protests, the two women and others were taken to the Pamba police control room. As the duo were being escorted in the police vehicles, a few protesters were seen running behind the vehicle, heckling and booing at them.

(TNM)

Facebook Collective Claims Dalit Activist Offered Prayers at Sabarimala

A Facebook collective called ‘Navothana Keralam Sabarimalayilekku’, which when translated reads as ‘Renaissance Kerala towards Sabarimala’, which says it supports the entry of women of all ages into the shrine, has released videos reportedly showing a 36-year-old Dalit activist named Manju offering prayers at the temple on Tuesday, 8 January, The Indian Express reported.

The videos reportedly show Manju reaching the shrine at about 7.30 am on Tuesday morning.

State Govt Should Identify Those with 'Hidden Agenda': Kerala HC

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday, 8 January, observed that Sabarimala is meant for devotees and stated that the state government should be able to identify those with a ‘hidden agenda’ who intend to ruin the peace at the shrine.

The court added that if the government was not able to control the law and order situation at the temple, outside agencies too could be brought in for help, The News Minute reported.