Several devotees attempted to occupy the Nadapandal late Sunday evening, demanding to spend the night there.

Scores of people detained for defying prohibitory orders at Sabarimala Photo credits: Rejish RJ/Twitter
news Sabarimala Monday, November 19, 2018 - 09:27

Sunday evening ended on a tense note at Sabarimala with the Kerala police taking into custody over 80 people for defying prohibitory orders at the temple.

The development which occurred post 10:30 pm on Sunday saw scores of devotees and members of right wing groups attempting to occupy the Nadapandal (the enclosure leading to the 18 steps) - which is off limits for devotees post 10 pm. The protesting devotees reportedly demanded to spread their viris or sheets and spend the night at the Nadapandal. 

“We are still checking who the troublemakers are. Several people had assembled yesterday. Some of them were the party workers (from the RSS and BJP) and a lot of devotees too were mixed into the crowd. They did not just attempt to break the prohibitory orders, we suspect they were there to create tensions at the temple,” a police officer at the Sannidhanam police station, where the case was registered, told TNM.

According to reports, 50 people have been arrested and 100 others have been detained by the police. Those arrested have been taken to a police camp at Manniyar, 30 kms from Nilakkal. 

Based on the data collected by the security unit at the Nadapandal, only 45,000 devotees with the irumudikettu had passed through the scanning machines since Friday. Surprisingly, less than 10,000 devotees have passed through until 10 pm on Sunday evening, according to TOI.

The devotees have been allowed entry into the temple in a controlled manner and apart from the few who stayed overnight for the neyyabhishekam, the police were allowing those who climbed the temple in the morning to enter the gates only after 7 am. The prohibitory orders were put in place due to tensions at Sabarimala following the SC verdict which allowed women entry into the temple and police have cordoned off the area in front of the shrine, namely the 18 steps and the Nadapandal. Those who wished to stay back were allowed to sleep near the Malikapuram temple.

On Saturday evening, BJP General Secretary K Surendran was taken into preventive custody by the Kerala police at Nilakkal in Sabarimala. Surendran and other members of the BIP were planning to go to Pamba, however, the police did not let them. Following his arrest and subsequent 14-day judicial demand, widespread protests broke out in Kerala with the BJP blocking national highways in Kochi, Kottayam and Palakkad.

(With inputs from Korah Abraham) 

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