With a sharp rise in the number of devotees visiting Sabarimala in the past five days, police are now considering a proposal for tripling its virtual queue quota for an even distribution of the crowd.
While 1,29,050 devotees visited the shrine on Thursday, the number was 1,42,066 and 1,31,097 on Friday and Saturday as per the door-frame metal detector installed by the police. Police officials are considering proposing to the government that crowd control is impossible under such circumstances and on days with peak crowd, the devotees should be let only through the virtual queue.
The virtual queue is an online book system devised by Kerala Police for Ayyappa devotees to book in advance their darshan timings at Sabarimala. It was introduced in 2016.
IG (Thiruvananthapuram range) and joint chief police coordinator for Sabarimala Manoj Abraham said that the police can only handle a maximum of one lakh devotees on a given day and any number beyond that will be a difficult task. "The crowd pattern is also unpredictable at Sabarimala. We are using maximum resources available for making Sabarimala pilgrimage hassle-free, but the unprecedented number of devotees on some days in the limited space and infrastructure turn things beyond the controlling ability of the police," he said speaking to TOI.
Figures of 50,883 and 85,266 were registered at the Sabarimala on Tuesday and Wednesday, it crossed one lakh in the next three days. The one lakh mark has been breached on six days since the start of the pilgrimage season on November 15, on November 24 and 25, and December 4,7,8 and 9.
Thousands of devotees braved hardships including incessant rain to witness the darshan of Lord Ayyappa and long queues usually dot the flover at sonapam, holy steps, lower thirumuttam and valiyanadapandal at 3:30 am, reported The New Indian Express.