Ramesh Chennithala wrote a letter to Kerala CM requesting him to revoke Section 144, as it will “destroy Sabarimala and alienate the devotees”.

Extend Section 144 at Sabarimala until Jan 14 Cops to Collector
news Sabarimala Friday, November 23, 2018 - 08:06

With the prohibitory orders at Sabarimala and neighbouring areas of Nilakkal, Pamba and Elavungal coming to an end on Thursday, the Kerala police has requested Pathanamthitta District Collector to extend Section 144 until January 14,  when the temple closes after the Makaravilakku season. The prohibitory orders were imposed on November 3 following violent protests at Sabarimala over women entry. 

In a report submitted to the District Collector, Pathanamthitta SP T Narayanan requested for the prohibitory orders to be in place until January 14, citing security reasons. The Collector will take a decision on the same after considering the reports of the executive magistrate as well as the special officer, according to reports. 

Over the past few weeks, several right-wing groups, devotee associations and the BJP have protested against the prohibitory orders in place at Sabarimala. While Hindu Aikya Vedi leader KP Sasikala was taken into preventive custody on Sunday, BJP leader K Surendran was arrested on Sunday, both for defying the prohibitory orders. Since then, more protests have broken out in the state. 

Following this, the Kerala High Court, after hearing three different petitions, ordered the government to remove all the restrictions imposed near the temple. At 12 pm on Thursday, these restrictions, including ones on vehicular traffic to Sabarimala were removed. A decision on extending the prohibitory order will, however, be deliberated on by the government soon.

 ‘Section 144 will destroy Sabarimala, alienate devotees’ 

Meanwhile, the Leader of Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala wrote a letter to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, requesting him to revoke Section 144, as it will “destroy Sabarimala and alienate the devotees”. 

“The atmosphere at Sabarimala is filled with fear. Imposing section 144 has only kept devotees away from Sabarimala. It has come to a point where pilgrims, who come from outside Kerala, have to return without darshan, out of fear.”

Ramesh Chennithala also shot off the letter to the Kerala Governor. He also pointed out that the Kerala government is only paving the way for RSS-Sangh Parivar forces to incite violence. He stated that it was not right to punish the devotees for the violence such groups unleash. “Make them (RSS and right-wing groups) toe the line, but it is not right to prevent devotees as a result,” he said.  

He also noted that it was for the first time in the history of Sabarimala that Section 144 has been imposed. “Because of Section 144, devotees cannot stay at Sabarimala after 11 pm. The police are treating the devotees, who observe the 41-day penance, as terrorists. As a result, they cannot perform neyabhishekam (a pooja using ghee). This has caused a lot of inconvenience to the devotees,” he said.

He also pointed out that for the first time in Sabarimala, there has been a decrease in the flow of devotees, due to the ongoing restrictions. “Last year, around 5 lakh devotees had arrived at Sannidhanam. This time, it has reduced to 74,000. With this, the temple income, as well as the sale of unniappam and aravana payasam, has considerably reduced,” the Congress chief wrote.

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