December 5, 2018
Contrary to expectations, prohibitory orders clamped under Section 144 of CrPC at Pamba, Elavunkal, Nilakkal and Sannidanam in Sabarimala have been extended till December 8.
The reason given is the threat of protests against entry of young women allowed by the September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court.
Though there were protests led by the BJP and RSS twice when the shrine opened after the verdict and some when it opened for the Mandalam-Makaravilakku season in mid-November, things have generally remained peaceful as protests have moved out to the State capital Thiruvanthapuram.
There has been a steady increase in flow of pilgrims, mainly from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Tuesday had the record crowd during the season.
The devaswom board, custodian of the temple, had suggested relaxation of the prohibitory orders.
Kerala High Court appointed a three-member committee to oversee matters at the shrine during the season. The committee is presently at the shrine and has expressed satisfaction over the arrangements, especially at the base camp of Nilackal from where pilgrims are taken to Pamba by state-run buses and from where the trek starts.
The appointment of the committee has left the State Government and the devaswom embarrassed. Any decision regarding the arrangements at the shrine would be on the basis of the committee report submitted to the court.
With the court ruling against any protest on the shrine premises, those spearheading the agitation at Sabarimala have moved out.
Also, the devaswom board has filed a petition seeking time to implement the verdict on entry of young women as there had to be additional facilities arranged. While the August flood damaged practically all the infrastructure at Pamba, rebuilding would have to be in line with the Sabarimala masterplan. The Supreme Court had also ordered demolition of all unauthorised constructions.
Pathanamthitta District Collector P B Nooh in an order late on Tuesday said the decision to extending prohibitory orders was taken after receiving reports from the District Superintendent of Police and executive magistrates.
The orders would not be applicable to pilgrims and there would be no ban on chanting of devotional hymns.