On Saturday, reporters were being allowed to approach the hill only until Nilakkal. On Sunday morning, reporters were being restricted at Iluvankal.

Media restricted from approaching Sabarimala shrine DGP Behera says temporary measure
news Sabarimala Sunday, November 04, 2018 - 12:08

After initial reports that media persons were not being allowed to move freely on Sabarimala hill, ahead of the temple’s reopening on Monday 5 November, DGP Loknath Behera clarified that media persons will in fact be allowed to approach the hill and carry out their duties once security arrangements are complete.

On Saturday and Sunday morning, media persons were being stopped from approaching Sabarimala hill. On Saturday, reporters were being allowed to approach the hill only until Nilakkal. On Sunday morning, reporters were being restricted at Iluvankal, which is even further away from the shrine than Nillakkal. However, DGP Loknath Behera has clarified that this is a temporary measure that should be rescinded soon. 

Speaking to media persons on Sunday morning, DGP Loknath Behera said, “We will give security to the media. The restrictions and regulations in place now is also for the same of security. Wherever media person have to go, they can go there. They need to be patient. We are more concerned about the security, and the security of the media. Last time we got a lot of criticism because the media got attacked. Therefore, whatever we are doing, it is in the interest of the media and other people, and we will help them. 

“By this evening, the situation will possibly become clear. Only people working on the field can tell exactly when, they have to see the situation on the ground and say when it is clear [for media persons to approach]. We are never going to block the freedom of media,” he said.

Pathanamthitta SP T Narayanan said that adequate and strong police forces had been deployed under various battalions headed by different Superintendents of Polices to ensure security of all persons in and around Sabarimala hill. “We have taken all measures to ensure security, including checking of vehicles and other ways to identify trouble makers [those intending to stop women devotees from approaching the temple],” he said.

Narayanan also said that all protests and demonstrations had been banned there due to the imposition of curfew in the area. “Any protests and demonstrations will be met with police response.” The SP also told reporters that as of Sunday morning, he had not received any reports of women devotees approaching the hill to perform darshan on November 5, or requests for security around the same. 

However, in spite of all the tight security arrangements, and despite media persons being barred from travelling past Nilakkal, Janam TV, a Malayalam channel with an overtly anti-women-entry stance, has seemingly managed to reach Sannidhanam. Visuals flashed on the channel on Sunday morning, claiming to be the newest visuals from the Sannidhanam, and showed the entrance of the shrine. 

DGP Loknath Behera concluded his statements to the media on Sunday morning by saying, “We will comply with the Supreme Court order, and we need law and order to be maintained there, hence police have been deployed there strongly. Our aim is that any devotee should be able to come and conduct their darshan smoothly.”

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