Thiruvananthapuram / No protection for women visiting Sabarimala: Kerala minister says a day before temple opens

Hindustan Times : Nov 15, 2019, 01:41 PM

The Left-led government in Kerala said on Friday it has no plan to give protection and take women to the Sabarimala, a day after the Supreme Court kept the doors of hilltop shrine open to women for now but decided to set up a larger bench to revisit its verdict from last year from a wider perspective.

The state’s temple affairs minister Kadakampally Surendran said emphatically that the government will not encourage women to gate crash the temple.

“It is proper to maintain the status quo at the temple. The government is all for peace,” Surendran said during a press conference in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.

When asked about activist and Bhoomata Brigade leader Trupti Desai’s proposed trip, he said it was not a place for activists. Desai has announced her plan to visit the temple on the first day of the three-month pilgrimage season beginning on Saturday.

“If anyone needs to go they can approach the court and obtain orders in this regard,” he added.

The five-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi gave its ruling on Thursday in a majority 3:2 verdict. Justice Indu Malhotra, who have given a dissenting judgment in this case last year, and Justice AM Khanwilkar were the other two judges.

Justice RF Nariman and Justice DY Chandrachud have backed rejecting the 65-odd review petitions against the September 2018 verdict that opened the doors of the Sabarimala temple to women.

The 2018 verdict had called the practice of barring women of a certain age group from entering the temple illegal and unconstitutional, triggering protests by traditionalists in the state. It had held that their exclusion on the basis of biological and physiological features denied women the right to be treated as equals.

There were huge protests outside the temple nestled in the Western Ghats in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district after last year’s verdict. Two people were killed and 50,000 protesters were booked at its peak by the police.

The protests had the support of temple priests, who insisted that the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is a celibate and women of menstruating age can’t be allowed on account of “purity”.

The minister said the government has sought legal advice and it got an opinion to maintain status quo.

Surendran blamed the media for whipping up passion.

“I know you people are giving undue publicity for some activists. It is not good. You are hell-bent on TRPs. You should take things positively,” he said.

Last year, the government had burnt its fingers on the issue and it was reflected in the last LS poll. The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) lost all but one of 20 seats in the state.