No special protection for ‘women activists’ at Sabarimala, says Kadakampally Surendran

Sabarimala no place for people with vested interest to display their activism, he says

November 15, 2019 02:12 pm | Updated 03:47 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Kadakampally Surendran , Tourism and Devaswom Board Minister, Kerala
Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup

Kadakampally Surendran , Tourism and Devaswom Board Minister, Kerala Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup

Kerala Devaswom Board Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Friday said the government was under no legal compulsion to shield women’s rights campaigners such as Trupti Desai who endeavoured to enter Sabarimala solely to grab national attention and pursue their private agenda.

Mr. Surendran told journalists in Thiruvananthapuram that Sabarimala was no place for any vested interest to display their activism. “If so, they should come with an order from the Supreme Court for police protection and escort,” he said.

“The presence of activists has in the past acted as a catalyst for communally divisive forces to muster their cadres and attack pilgrims and police in the name of defending the faith in Sabarimala”, he said.

The Minister requested individuals and organisations to desist from using Sabarimala for their personal and political agenda. He requested the media not to spotlight activists such as Ms Desai, who sought to exploit Sabarimala as a high-profile international pulpit to amplify their propaganda.

Mr Surendran dispelled allegations that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had “sneaked” women activists into the temple under the cover of darkness and with police escort last year and climbed down in the face of the wrath of Ayyappa devotees. The position of the government had always been consistent. It was constitutionally bound to obey the Supreme Court, he said.

Mr Surendran’s statement came against the backdrop of reports that the government had received legal opinion that the State was under no juridical requirement to escort females between the age of 10 and 50 to Sabarimala. Advocate General C. P. Sudhakara Prasad had met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss the matter on Friday morning.

An official said the government appeared to have some latitude in the matter of allowing women of childbearing age to enter the temple in the wake of the Supreme Court’s latest decision to constitute a seven-member constitutional Bench to examine all the myriad angles of the case.

The police have the freedom to counsel females between the ages of 10 and 50 against trekking up to the temple if they felt their presence in Sabarimala could precipitate a law and order situation and breach public peace.

He said the government had declared Sabarimala and adjoining localities high-security zones under Section 83 of the Kerala Police Act. The police now have more legal teeth to act decisively.

The State secretariat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was also in session at the AKG centre here, and the Sabarimala issue was purportedly high on the party’s schedule.

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