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51 women pilgrims visited Sabarimala, Kerala tells SC

Sabarimala pic

The Supreme Court on January 18 directed the Kerala police to provide round-the-clock security to Kanaka Durga and Bindu Ammini, the two women who are facing threats after offering prayers at Sabarimala

 REJIMON K

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fifty-one women, aged between 10 and 50, have entered the Sabarimala temple following the Supreme Court verdict on September 28, 2018, the Kerala government has revealed in its affidavit submitted in the apex court.

The state Director General of Police, on behalf of the Kerala government, submitted the names and details of the 51 women in the affidavit.

“The names suggest that most of these women are not from Kerala, but from neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana,” the affidavit, a copy of which is in possession with The Lede, reveals.

Due to security concerns around safety of the women pilgrims, The Lede is not publishing the list. According to the affidavit, the names and details have been sourced from the digital queue management system run by the Kerala Police, which is an online system for advance booking for darshan for the Sabarimala shrine.

“A total of 16 lakh devotees had registered this year. Of these, 8.2 lakh devotees visited the shrine. In this regard, it is submitted that a total of 7,564 women between aged 10 and 50, had also registered for the darshan, and as per the digitally scanned records, around 51 women in this group have already visited the shrine and had darshan without any issue,” the affidavit reads.

The affidavit also adds that this does not include many others who have come as normal pilgrims and who have not availed the online facility.

“A total number of 44 lakh pilgrims visited the temple, from November 16, 2018 till date,” the affidavit added.

Meanwhile, Asianet News has claimed that there is a mismatch regarding the age of some women pilgrims mentioned in the affidavit, and that some of the women listed are aged above 50. On checking the electoral ID details of a woman pilgrim, the news channel claims that she is 51 years old but has reported to be aged 48 in the affidavit.

Women and girls aged between 10 and 50 are denied entry into Sabarimala, to protect the deity Ayyappan’s celibacy.

However, the Supreme Court on September 28, 2018 said that ‘women are not inferior to man’, and that ‘the patriarchy of religion cannot be permitted to triumph over faith’, in a 75-page verdict that said biological or physiological reasons cannot be accepted in freedom for faith.

“Religion is basically way of life; however, certain practices create incongruities,” the verdict added.

Even though several women had attempted to trek to Sabarimala following the verdict, they were forced to climb down the hill without having a darshan, as hardcore pilgrims protested their entry.

However, on January 2, 2019, some three months after the SC’s verdict, Kanaka Durga and Bindu Ammini, two women in their 40s, climbed the hilly path to Sabarimala and prayed in the temple. Following their visit, the temple was closed for one hour for purification rituals.

Both women had attempted earlier, to trek Sabarimala, on December 24, 2018. However, they were forced to return due to protests by right wing groups in Sabarimala on that day.

Kanaka Durga and Bindu’s entry into the hill shrine was widely celebrated by rights groups, and opposed by Hindutva groups supported by the BJP.

Unfortunately, the duo have however been facing threats after they entered the hilltop shrine on January 2, 2019.

Last week, Kanaka Durga was allegedly attacked by her mother-in-law when she returned home, two weeks after staying in an undisclosed location.

Following this, both women had approached the Supreme Court seeking protection. The Supreme Court has now directed the Kerala Police to provide round-the-clock security to Kanaka Durga and Bindu Ammini.

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