Muslim devotee among dead pilgrims

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Kumily (Ker), Jan 16 (PTI) A Muslim devotee of LordAyyappa was among those killed in one of the most horrificpilgrim disasters in the last decade at Pullmedu about sevenkm from the famous Sabarimala hill shrine.

Many Saba (24), part of a 20-member group from Karwarin Karnataka, had undertaken a nearly two month stricttraditional penance to undertake the trip to the hill shrne ofAyyappa.

After witnessing ''Makarajyoti'' (celestial light on theeastern horizon marking the finale of the two month longpilgrimage season) the group, which had a seventh standardstudent and six ''Kanni swamis (devotees who go to Sabarimalafor the first time) got dispersed. Finally, they spottedeveryone except Saba, said Vijesh Shetty.

They searched for him for nearly an hour and later atthe hospital where the injured had been taken. However it wasonly yesterday morning that they found him among the dead withbruises all over his body, said a wailing Shetty.

The team had set out for Sabarimala on January 8 andafter darshan at the Ayyappa temple, had reached Pullmedu onFriday morning.

The Sabarimala temple, considered the oldest shrine inIndia, is open to devotees of all religious backgrounds.

Vavar, a close friend of Lord Ayyapa, was a Muslim. Devoteeswho visit the shrine first offer prayers at the Vavar mosquebefore trekking to the temple.

In the disaster, 102 devotees were killed and 50injured.

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