Not possible to verify the age of each woman pilgrim who visited Sabarimala, says Kerala Devaswom Minister

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran. File

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran. File

Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran revealed on Wednesday that hundreds of women had offered prayers at Sabarimala this pilgrimage season and it was not always possible for the government to gauge the age of each devotee.

His disclosure came against the backdrop of a thwarted attempt by two women from Kannur to worship at the temple earlier in the day.

In a brief interaction with media, Mr Surendran denounced the besieging of women by Sabarimala Karma Samathi (SKS) activists as a primitive act that ran against the grain of the abiding principle of the rule of law and universal right of gender equality. 

Mr. Surendran said the police had acted with composure and maturity and escorted the women back to Pampa. Any overreaction on the part of the law enforcers would have been akin to playing into the hands of right-wing elements hell-bent on unleashing violence in  Kerala in the name of defending the faith, he said.

A police officer said any effort on the part of the police to verify the age of women visiting Sabarimala was illegal after September 28 last year when the Supreme Court allowed females of any age to worship at the shrine.

Seven arrested

The women, Shanila and Reshmi, both natives of Kannur district, had reached Pampa in the company of seven men. The group was part of a social media fellowship sworn to uphold Enlightenment principles and gender equality. The police arrested seven SKS workers, but many more remained on watch at Sabarimala to thwart a possible attempt on the part of officers to return the women to the shrine. 

A police officer said the women were in police custody and they had threatened to go on a hunger strike if they were not allowed to complete their pilgrimage.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 8:47:11 am |