HC panel finds facilities at Sabarimala satisfactory

HC monitoring committee finds facilities at Sabarimala satisfactory
The monitoring committee comprised retired judges P R Raman, S Sirijagan and DGP A Hemachandran.

Pamba/Thiruvananthapuram: The three-member monitoring committee appointed by the Kerala High court to review facilities at the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, visited Sannidhanam (temple complex)  Tuesday and said it was satisfied with the amenities for the pilgrims.

The monitoring committee comprised retired judges P R Raman, S Sirijagan and DGP A Hemachandran.

"The facilities here (Sannidhanam) are satisfactory. The bathroom and toilet facilities for pilgrims are also satisfactory. But the restrictions imposed by the police are there. We will submit a detailed report as early as possible... by next Monday," the Committee members told reporters.

Meanwhile, BJP leader A N Radhakrishnan continued his indefinite fast in front of the Secretariat at the state capital, which entered the second day Tuesday, demanding withdrawal of police restrictions,including prohibitory orders at Sabarimala and adjacent areas.

In a separate protest, three Opposition Congress MLAs are also on a sit-in at the Legislative Assembly portico for the second day, raising similar demands.

The three-member committee had visited Nilakkal, the base camp and Pamba Monday.

"A false campaign was going on, saying that there were very few facilities for pilgrims at the two places," DGP Hemachandran had said at Nilakkal.

"The media should telecast the real picture", he said, adding that more facilities needed to be given to police personnel, deployed for temple duty.

The members had visited Pamba, which saw the maximum devastation during the August floods, with many facilities for the pilgrims, including toilets, being washed away.

The High Court had appointed the committee following large-scale complaints that the facilities at the temple complex were poor.

The committee, which held its first meeting at Kochi Sunday, had said they would assess the existing facilities at the temple complex and make suggestions to add more facilities, If needed.

Prohibitory orders extended

Prohibitory orders imposed in Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal and Ilavunkal have been extended till December 8. The restrictions under CrPC section 144 were extended by the Pathanamthitta district collector after the SP and ADM submitted reports seeking the same.

There will not be any restriction on devotees chanting mantras of Lord Ayyappa, individually or in groups.

The hill shrine had been witnessing protests by devotees and right wing groups against the government's decision to implement the September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups to pray at the temple.

Since the Apex court verdict, no women in the 10-50 age group has succeeded in offering prayers at the shrine, where the deity is "Naishtika Brahmachari" (perennial celebate).

The Ayyappa temple was opened on November 16 for the over two-month-long pilgrimage season amid tension.

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