For the first time in Sabarimala, police officers have been instructed to follow a firm dress code while on duty at the temple. Officers have been asked to wear caps, boots and belts, with their shirts tucked in. They must also turn up clean-shaven. This is to ensure that they follow a dress code like at any other protest site.
Those on duty at the Nadapandal have been instructed to carry lathis and stone shields with them. The officers also have to salute their superiors. Earlier, saluting senior police officials while on duty at Sabarimala was not necessary. The orders issued by Kochi range IG Vijay Sakahre have allowed exemptions only to those officers stationed at the 18 steps and the sopanam in the temple.
The new orders have been issued to ensure security at the hill shrine in the connection with the protests against the entry of women into the temple. IG Manoj Abraham, along with South Zone ADGP Anil Kant, is in charge of security operations at the site.
The orders have been relayed to all officers on duty right from the Sannidhanam until Marakootam, which is less than 2 kms from the temple. Over 2,000 police officers have been stationed at the Sabarimala base camp in Nilakkal and over 1,000 officers, including 15 women officers above 50 years, are patrolling Sannidhanam currently. Top Kerala police brass has been stationed at the temple to ensure security.
During every phase, an IG-rank officer will be leading the security deployment at Pamba and Sannidhanam. While IG P Vijayan will be in-charge of Sannidhanam, Thrissur Range IG MR Ajit Kumar will be looking after the forces deployed from Nilakkal to Pamba. In Pamba, Thiruvananthapuram range IG Manoj Abraham is in charge of the security. ADGP (Police Headquarters) S Aananthakrishnan is leading the police team.
Instructions have also been given to the police force to ensure that devotees do not stay back after visiting the shrine and that they leave the temple the same day.
The Sabarimala shrine reopened on Friday for the Mandala - Makaravilakku season, for a period of two months. As per the Supreme Court’s orders, there is no stay on the September 28 verdict, which allowed women to enter the temple. Following this, activist Trupti Desai and six others from the Bhoomata Brigade have reached Kochi to visit the temple in Pathanamthitta on November 17. Trupti and six other women, who are all below 50 years of age, have been stranded inside the Cochin Airport for the last eight hours as ‘nama japa’ protestors have gathered outside the arrival terminal to prevent the group.