Kochi: The two Kerala women, in their 40s, who offered prayers at the Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala on Wednesday, have dismissed the allegations that they were playing into the hands of the police and the LDF government.
Bindu, one of the two women, has denied that a conspiracy was hatched by the government and the police so that they could pay a visit to the shrine. Meanwhile, 44-year-old Kanakadurga, who prayed at the shrine along with Bindu, said that she had gone to Sabarimala on her own wish.
While 42-year-old Bindu, a native of Pathanamthitta, is an assistant professor at School of Legal Studies at Palayad in Thalassery, Kanakadurga belongs to Angadipuram in Malappuram district. They spoke to Manorama News from a secret location where they are staying after offering prayers at the Sabarimala Temple.
In an exclusive interview given to Manorama News, Kanakadurga said, "It was my own decision to go to Sabarimala."
Dismissing the conspiracy angle being alleged by the Sangh Parivar outfits and the opposition Congress that the two women were playing into the hands of police and the government, the women said they "used" the police machinery to enter Sabarimala on the basis of the September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the hill shrine.
According to Bindu, it was not the police who had made them a tool but the other way around. “Two Superintendents of the Police arranged security for us till Pamba. We climbed the hill along with other pilgrims and nobody objected,” she added.
"We do not know whether chief minister had any role in our reaching the shrine," they said.
"We are a group of like-minded people. That's why we have come together to trek to the temple. Police or political party agenda, as is being alleged by the BJP and others, is baseless," she said.
When asked whether they were devotees or activists, Kanakadurga said an activist can also be a devotee.
"Activists are also devotees. If some activist wants to visit a temple, they can.The September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court allows all women to go, whether they are activists or devotees," she said.
Bindu told the channel that they were adamant and wanted to visit the shrine after failing in their first attempt on December 24 when they were forced to return due to violent protests.
"If we had gone back to our respective homes, we were sure that we may never visit Sabarimala. So we sought help from the police and SPs from two districts," she said.
Bindu refused to disclose where they stayed after the December 24 fiasco as they feared the safety of their friends.
Kanakadurga refuted all charges raised against them. “We did not travel in an ambulance to Sannidhanam. We trekked to reach the hilltop,” she said.
Dismissing the allegations that they have political affiliations, Bindu said those who oppose the entry of women into Sabarimala have always labelled as "Maoists" any women who have attempted to reach the shrine.
"I am not affiliated to any political party or organisation now. I have left all those years back. I was part of the CPI(ML)'s central committee and later resigned owing to differences. I am not part of any organisation now," she said, adding that she was a key speaker at a BJP event on Human Rights Day years ago. "That doesn't mean that I am with BJP. Just because I entered Sabarimala will not make me a communist," she said.
When asked about her family's support, Bindu said she has the backing of her husband Hariharan on every issue, including Sabarimala, and he had even accompanied the duo till Sannidhanam.
When asked about her mother's criticism for undertaking the trip to Sabarimala, Bindu said her mother has got all rights to express her views.
"My mother and brother have all the rights to say that women should not enter Sabarimala. This is a democratic country. They can express their views and rights. They are entitled to their views," she said.
Kanakadurga said she was staying with her husband and kids but may have some ideological differences. She also said that her husband tried to dissuade her considering her safety.
Over the allegations of Maoist links, she said that though she was a member of some parties supporting the cause in the past, at present she was not a member of any political outfit.
“I was a member of the women’s collective that prepared plans to enter the shrine, but reached the temple without anybody’s compulsion,” Kanakadurga added.
Soon after the two women entered Sabarimala, right-wing activists had called for hartal on Thursday. The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of pro-Hindutva groups, and the Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP), to protest the entry of two women of reproductive age into the Sabarimala temple, virtually brought the state down to its knees.
The state was under siege as they attacked over 20 offices of the ruling CPI(M) and its other Left allies, and clashed with police.
The women and girls in the age group of 10 to 50 were traditionally barred from praying at the Sabarimala temple. This prohibition was struck down by the Supreme Court on September 28, 2018, opening the gates of temple to women of all age groups.