Police walk a tight rope at Sabarimala as rumours, protests mar peace

Police walk a tight rope at Sabarimala as rumours, protests mar peace
The arrival of a Tamilian woman sparks a protest in Sabarimala as people were suspicious about her age. Photo: PTI
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Pampa: Rumours have kept Sabarimala under boil for the past four days. The Sannidhanam, where celibate deity Lord Ayyappa sits, and Pampa which hosts a Ganapati temple, have been rife with rumours that young women are arriving for worship. The flow of pilgrims has not been affected, however. Crowds thronged the Sannidhanam as well as Pampa on Saturday afternoon despite incessant rain.

The police have concluded that the young women who sought to reach Sabarimala, as the temple opened for the first time after the Supreme Court verdict, were not genuine devotees. That corners the police force, which has been deployed for the security of real devotees. It forces the police to do a check on every rumour.

The law-enforcing force will now have to use their skills of persuasion to ensure that these young women who are particular of reaching the Sannidhanam are turned away. If the women remain adamant, they will be taken as far up on the hill as possible and until a point where they meet the strongest protest. This will be the police policy for Sunday and Monday. They are under orders to be extremely cautious as even the national media is present at Sabarimala.

The temple closes after monthly rituals at 10 pm on Monday.

The police also face a tough challenge in enforcing prohibitory orders at the Sannidhanam. They find it difficult to order that the devotees, who come in groups, cannot proceed together. Ayyappa devotees who organise at the Sannidhanam carefully is also another bother as they cannot easily be evicted from the Sannidhanam on mere suspicion.

Police walk a tight rope at Sabarimala as rumours, protests mar peace
The police also face a tough challenge in enforcing prohibitory orders at the Sannidhanam. They find it difficult to order that the devotees, who come in groups, cannot proceed together.

The gathering of protesters at the Sannidhanam after the tension at Nilakkal on the second day had posed another headache for the police.

The Sabarimala temple will close at 10 pm on Monday after completion of the Thulam month rituals.

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