Sabarimala, police handbook | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Pathanamthitta: The Kerala government on Thursday has withdrawn the home department's controversial directive to police personnel for permitting all pilgrims to the Sabarimala shrine abiding by the Supreme Court order. The government took the action after facing backlash from the BJP.
The handbook distributed by the Home Department among policemen on duty at the hill shrine and its premises says all pilgrims are permitted to enter the temple as per the September 2018 verdict of the Supreme Court.
The BJP had earlier alleged one of the directives in a police handbook distributed among personnel on duty at the Sabarimala temple over devotees' entry had a 'malicious motive' with the ruling LDF saying it will be withdrawn if there were any lapses.
As the matter kicked up political controversy, state Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan clarified it was printed earlier and the directives that appear in this year's handbook were by mistake.
"The government has no ill-motive in the matter. We have done everything with a good intention. If there are any lapses in the directives, directions will be given to withdraw it," the minister told reporters in Sabarimala.
The controversial directive appears as the first among several given for policemen to be followed while on duty at the Lord Ayyappa Temple.
Without directly mentioning about the entry of women at Sabarimala and the agitations that followed, BJP state chief K Surendran said if the Left government had any particular intention behind its "entry for all pilgrims" directive in the handbook, it was better to nip it in the bud itself.
"If the decision (of the government) is to turn Sabarimala into a war zone again and to target believers, we haven't forgotten anything from the past. The government had backtracked from those things before. If you are coming up again with such moves, it will have far-reaching consequences...that's the only thing we can say," he told reporters.
The BJP leader also said it was better for the government to step back from such moves.
The famed Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala here opened on Wednesday evening on the eve of the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season which this year is expected to see a 40 to 50 per cent increase in devotees in the absence of COVID-19 restrictions.
The temple witnessed a huge turnout of devotees this morning braving heavy rains.
With PTI inputs