Security failure at Sabarimala: DGP seeks report from IG

RSS leader Valsan Thillankeri
DGP Loknath Behera had called IG Ajit Kumar after seeing visuals of RSS leader Valsan Thillankeri using a police microphone to talk to protesters from the Pathinettam Padi.
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Thiruvananthapuram: The police are mooting a total revamp of security measures at Sabarimala after an extensive arrangement flopped due to serious lapses from those on duty when the Sree Dharma Sastha temple opened for the Chithira Attam rituals on Monday and Tuesday.

Director General of Police Loknath Behera has asked Inspector General (Thrissur Range) M R Ajit Kumar, who heads security at Sannidhanam, to submit a detailed report on what went wrong.

It is understood that authorities want to complete the rejig of security measures before November 16, when the temple reopens for the Mandalakala-Makaravilakku season which could see up to one lakh pilgrims arriving every day.

The bungling of security at Sannidhanam was reviewed at a meeting held on Wednesday in the presence of DGP Behera. It was ascertained that the police lost control of the Sannidhanam on Tuesday although measures taken well in advance. The police failed to disperse protesters who evaded curbs on gathering.

In a serious case of dereliction of duty, the personnel who were deployed on the Pathinettam Padi abandoned their posts by Tuesday morning. Fifteen police women above the age of 50, deployed for a first time to assist women pilgrims, were also missing on Tuesday. As a result, the police failed to enforce the directive that people should not be allowed to stay at Sannidhanam for a longer period.

Behera had called Ajit Kumar after seeing the television visuals of RSS leader Valsan Thillankei using a police microphone to talk to protesters from the Pathinettam Padi. Kumar updated him that Superintendents of Police had been assigned responsibility.

Real devotees, media persons were not prevented

The state police have informed the High Court that real devotees and media persons were not prevented from entering Sabarimala. The security measures were enforced as per a Central government directive to avoid untoward incidents at Sannidhanam.

The Union Ministry of Home had warned chief secretaries in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka that some Hindu outfits had planned protests at Sabarimala against the Supreme Court verdict that allowed the women of child-bearing age at the temple. T. Narayanan, the Pathanamthitta district police chief, said a directive was also issued to prevent false campaigns on the social media.

The High Court was considering a complaint that the police had prevented the entry of media persons.

The police told the court that some extremist organisations had blocked women and smashed vehicles during the temple opening in October. Women journalists were assaulted. This incident forced the police to beef up the security this time. Gatherings were banned after the district police chief sought it on the basis of a warning from the Intelligence department.

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