BJP And Congress Launch Protest Marches through Kerala In Support Of Traditions Of Sabarimala

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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress launched protest marches through the state in support of traditions of the hilltop temple days before the Supreme Court takes up review petitions against its Sabarimala judgment allowing entry of women of all ages.

With the annual pilgrimage season to the temple in Pathanamthitta starting November 16, the apex court will November 13 hear a set of petitions challenging its verdict, and many in Kerala, including police, hope that it will give the state reasonable time for implementing the order.

The temple had witnessed violent protests when it opened twice after the verdict for monthly pooja on October 17 and just-concluded one-day Sree Chithirayattam festival, with devotees foiling various women’s attempts to trek to the hilltop temple. The state crime branch and other security agencies have warned if the protests continued during the pilgrimage season, it may lead to a disaster. “Sabarimala is a ticking bomb. If it continues to burn, it is a recipe for a major disaster,” said a senior crime branch official who did not want to be identified.

The temple had witnessed two major accidents that claimed over 200 lives: On January 14, 1999, a stampede in the foothills left 53 dead and in 2011, 104 pilgrims died on Makara Jyothi Day at Pullumedu in another stampede.

Police face another peculiar problem. Many senior officials admit that a major section of personnel have a mental block in discharging their duty due to deep-rooted religious beliefs. Some of them are torn between their duty and belief, said the official adding if the violent situation continued, the state may seek deployment of central paramilitary forces.

While the Left Democratic Front government supported the entry of the women to the temple and vowed to implement the verdict, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress have backed the devotees protesting against violation of traditions.

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