The Kerala government on Wednesday will be lifting restrictions imposed on Sabarimala and its surrounding areas after the Kerala High Court questioned the government about its reasons for imposing them.
The court, which heard three different petitions on the alleged police excesses to ensure security and enforcement of restrictions in the area, asked the Pathanamthitta district administration to produce documents which explained the reason behind the need to take such action.
Following violent protests at the temple after the September 28 Supreme Court verdict which allowed women of all ages entry into Sabarimala, the Pinarayi Vijayan government imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (prohibitory orders) at the Sannidhanam, Nilakkal, Pamba, Elavugal etc, banning more than 3 to 4 people assembling in these areas. Private vehicles were banned beyond Nilakkal and people have also been blocked from climbing the temple post 9 pm.
KSRTC bus services were not allowed after 8.30 pm. The government has lifted all the restrictions and on Thursday it will be made clear if prohibitory orders will be lifted too.
Devotees can go in groups, says HC
Questioning the government on how it can tell a devotee from a right-wing protestor, the court ordered the government to repeal the prohibitory orders and allow devotees to visit the temple in groups.
'Nothing wrong in singing Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa'
The court also said that there was nothing wrong in chanting ‘Swaimye Saranam Ayyappa’ and that it was not a threat to the law and order situation at the temple.
On Wednesday, Ernakulam range IG Vijay Sakhare appeared before the court along with Advocate General CP Sudhakara Prasad where the bench asked if the IG and SP Yathish Chandra at the Sabarimala did not understand Malayalam to think that Ayyappa mantras were a law and order challenge.
The Kerala government’s prohibitory orders included banning unlawful assembly at the temple premises and no entry to Sabarimala post 10 pm. Further, private vehicles were not allowed beyond Nilakkal and the only vehicles that plied Nilakkal, Pamba and Sabarimala were KSRTC buses.
On Monday, 69 people from protesting right-wing groups at Sabarimala were arrested for defying police orders and spending the night at the temple. BJP leader K Surendran and Hindu Aikya Vedi KP Sasikala too were arrested for defying court orders and attempting to enter believers.
While Surendran has been granted conditional bail by the Pathanamthitta magistrate court which ordered him not the enter the Ranni area for the next two months, Sasikala was granted bail. The 52-year-old even visited Sabarimala with her grandson and offered her prayers the next day. The police had taken her into preventive custody as they suspected to create protests at the Sannidhanam. Although Sasikala approached officers and said that she wanted to enter the temple as she was a devotee and are above 50 years of age, she was earlier involved in blocking pilgrims and checking the IDs of women who attempted to enter the temple.