Sabarimala row: ‘Devotees are not terrorists’, says Union minister KJ Alphons
On Monday, in the latest development regarding the Sabarimal row, Union minster KJ Alphons criticised the Kerala government for turning the Sabarimala temple complex into a ‘war zone’, as fresh protests erupted near the hill shrine, reported news agency PTI. Allegedly, for defying prohibitory orders, 68 people have been taken into preventive custody.
After arriving at Nilakkal base camp on Monday, Alphons said, “The state government has turned the temple complex into a war zone.” He also added, “The devotees are not militants, they are pilgrims. What was the need to declare Section 144 at Sabarimala?”
A situation worse than emergency is happening here, the devotees are not allowed to go up. Section 144 is imposed for no reason. Devotees are not terrorists, why do they need 15000 policemen here? : KJ Alphons MoS Tourism on #SabarimalaTemple issue pic.twitter.com/sOHaC3dAXP
— ANI (@ANI) November 19, 2018
As reported by ANI, Alphons said the situation at the hill shrine was worse than the Emergency. He questioned the state governmnet, “Devotees are not terrorists, why do they need 15,000 policemen here?” Further questioning the probity of the state government, he asked, if the police were deployed in a bid to instil fear and panic. As reported by the The Indian Express, he said, “This is not Soviet Russia under Stalin, this is a democratic country,” he said. “Law and order is the responsibility of the state government.”
On Friday evening, the temple opened for the third time after the Supreme Court in September allowed women of all ages to enter the temple. Even after the verdict was passed by the apex court, so far, no woman between the ages of 10 and 50 were allowed to enter the temple due to massive protests. In the meantime, from Friday, new rules from the Police has come into ploy. According to this rule, no pilgrim will be allowed to proceed to the temple after 7 pm as the temple closes for the day at 10 pm.
On saturday, the state had observed a shutdown of the temple. Protests erupted again on Sunday.
According to a PTI report, while defending the arrests, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said that those held were not Ayyappa devotees. He also added, “RSS workers were camping at Sannidhanam with a motive to create trouble.” Further, while speaking at a conference organised by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, the CM said, “The government cannot let anyone create trouble at Sabarimala.”
Vijayan also asserted that his government was not taking any steps to help women enter the temple. But added that it was his government’s ‘constitutional responsibility’ to provide security to women who want to offer prayers at the hill shrine.
In the meantime, KP Sasikala- a Hindu Aikya Vedi leader had reached Sabarimala temple top. She was denied entry in the temple and turned back and detained on Friday after she defied prohibitory orders at the hilltop shrine.