Sabarimala protests: Sec 144 extended till Dec 27; Several devotees detained at Pampa
Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 23: Amid renewed protests in Sabarimala, Pathanamthitta district magistrate has extended Section 144 till December 27. The order prohibits unlawful gathering and protest between Elavungal and Sannidanam.
Today, tensions flared up near the Sabarimala Temple as a group of 11 women, below the age of 50 years, began to trek with the intension of visiting the Lord Ayyappa shrine. Manithi, a Chennai-based NGO, had declared that a group of 50 women, all below the traditionally barred age of 50 years, will visit the Sabarimala shrine on Sunday.
11 women managed to reach the base camp at Pamba but were met by hundreds of protestors who had gathered at the entry point to the trekking path. The women are now seeking police protection. The Kerala Police has formed a security cover around them. While the police requested the women to return seeing the law and order situation, the group stood their ground and said they will only go back after completing their pilgrimage, an India Today report said.
"We are here since 3.30 am. Police had said that they will provide us with protection but now they are not providing us protection to trek to the temple," Selvi, a member of the women's devotees group who is currently at Pampa base, told media.
On December 19, the Pathanamthitta Magistrate Court has extended the prohibitory orders in Sabarimala Temple till the midnight of 22nd December.
Women, in the age group of 10-50 years, are traditionally barred from entering the Sabarimala temple. But the Supreme Court, in its September 28 verdict, lifted the ban and permitted women of all age groups to offer prayers at the temple. After the SC verdict, several women have tried to enter the shrine but have been unsucessful so far due to the massive protest by the devotees.