Tuesday, 20 Nov, 3.52 pm The South Indian Post

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Kerala government's handling of Sabarimala issue disappointing, says Amit Shah

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah Tuesday slammed the Pinarayi Vijayan government's handling of the situation in Sabarimala as "disappointing".

"The way Pinarayi Vijayan's govt is handling the sensitive issue of Sabarimala is disappointing. Kerala police is treating young girls, mothers and aged inhumanly, forcing them to take the arduous pilgrimage, without even basic facilities like food, water, shelter and clean toilets", Shah tweeted.

On Monday, a court had remanded 69 pilgrims, who were held late Sunday night from Sabarimala Ayyappa temple complex after they defied prohibitory orders, to 14 days judicial custody.

The BJP chief Amit Shah also criticized the state governments rude behaviour against devotees during this pilgrimage season.

"If several reports of flushing resting places for devotees and them having to spend nights next to pig droppings and dustbin are true, then Pinarayi Vijayan must realize that he can't treat Ayyappa devotees like inmates of Gulag. We won't let LDF crush people's faith with impunity", he said.

Gulag was a system of forced labour camps established during Joseph Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union.

"If Pinarayi Vijayan thinks he can rise against people's movement to preserve Sabarimala by arresting K Surendran, our Thrissur District President and 6 others, then he is mistaken. We stand firmly with every Ayyappa devotee, who holds the Sabarimala tradition close to his heart", he tweeted.

Shah's comments underlined his party's support to devotees protesting against the state government's move to implement a Supreme Court order lifting the ban on women of menstruating age from visiting the temple.

Earlier, the Kerala cops have imposed Section 144 in Nilakkal, Pamba and Sannidhanam as a precautionary measure.

The section of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which prohibits assembly of more than four people at a place has been put in place, as the state braces for a bout of fresh protests against the entry of women into the hill shrine.

Over 15,000 personnel, including women police personnel and 860 women civil police officers have deployed to deal with the situation.

The Supreme Court on November 13, said that the writ and review petitions seeking review of the judgement, allowing entry of women of all age groups into the shrine in Kerala will be heard in an open court on January 22, 2019.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra admitted all 49 review petitions seeking revisit of its September 28 order to allow women of all age groups inside the Sabarimala temple.

"All the review petition along with all pending application will be heard in open court on 22nd January 2019 before the appropriate Bench. We make it clear that there is no stay of the judgement and order of this court dated 28th September 2018", the court had said in a statement.

On September 28, the five-judge bench headed by former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra lifted the entry ban on women in the temple, saying the centuries-old custom at the shrine was not an essential religious practice and "the attribute of devotion to divinity cannot be subjected to the rigidity and stereotypes of gender".

This is the third that the temple had opened after the top court lifted the restriction on women entry.

The shrine had opened on October 18, the first time after the Supreme Court's verdict, allowing women in menstruating age groups to enter the temple.

Then the temple reopened on the evening of November 5, to celebrate 'Chithira Attavisesham' the birth anniversary of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the last king of Travancore.

After that, the door opened on November 16 evening for a 62-days long Mandalam Makaravilakku celebrations.

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