After the violent protests against the Supreme Court decision to allow women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple in October, Kerala police came out in full force on the road from Nilakkal, the base camp from where devotees head to Pamba and trek up to the Sabarimala temple. Around 1,500 police personnel each has been deployed in the areas of the temple, Pamba and Nilakkal.
The intense security measures have been put in place for the Sree Chitra Atta Thirunal pooja commencing at 5 pm on Monday. The ritual will end at 10 pm on Tuesday. The security measures have not gone down well with hundreds of devotees, who arrived in Nilakkal on Monday morning.
The police were seen demanding ID cards from devotees, media personnel and others making their way to Pamba. A number of devotees were asked to deboard the bus in Nilakkal following a round of security checks by the police.
The devotees then had to walk from Nilakkal to Pamba, causing a traffic jam on the road. They were seen chanting praises to Lord Ayyappa along the way.
Gokul, a devotee from Kozhikode, said, “We got into the KSRTC bus in Nilakkal, kept our irumudikettu on our heads and had started chanting praises of Lord Ayyappa when the police came in and asked our ID cards.”
Vishnu, another devotee from Thiruvananthapuram said, “Many of us took the bus from Thiruvananthapuram but the police asked us to get down at Nilakkal because we were not carrying our id cards. This has not happened before.”
The devotees managed to reach Pamba at 1 pm taking three hours to cross the 20 km stretch.
The police, however, told TNM that they are not taking chances with the security measures. “Only KRSTC buses and media vehicles with ID cards will be allowed to go to Pamba. This arrangement will continue for the Makaravilakku season as well later this month,” said a police officer stationed in Pamba.
Thousands of devotees descended on the checkpoint in Pamba, which is the last point before the trek to Sabarimala. Several more devotees are still arriving with the temple gates set to open at 5 pm.
No women between the ages of 10 and 50 have arrived at Pamba claimed the police.