Amid mounting tension in Kerala over the issue of women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, the Congress on Sunday accused the CPI(M)-led state government of creating a ‘terror-like atmosphere’ in the name of security of the hill shrine.
The Congress levelled the allegation as a three-member party delegation comprising former state ministers Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Adoor Prakash and V S Sivakumar left for Sabarimala to study the situation there.
“The Sabarimala Sannidhanam has virtually turned into a fortress, where the entry of devotees of Lord Ayyappa are being restricted,” Radhakrishnan, who is also a legislator, told reporters here.
Prakash, representing the Konni Assembly constituency, claimed that heavy police deployment at Sabarimala was disrupting the normal flow of devotees.
“The government, using the police force, is creating a terror-like atmosphere in the name of ensuring security of the Lord Ayyappa shrine,” he alleged.
Sivakumar, a former Devaswom minister, alleged that the government had not taken any step to provide basic facilities for the huge number of pilgrims visiting the temple.
The MLA from Thiruvananthapuram said devotees face a lot of hardship due to lack of basic facilities at Nilackal, Pamba and Sannidhanam.
Before heading to Sabarimala, the Congress leaders alleged that the state government was not interested in setting up necessary infrastructure and security for the pilgrims and instead was only interested in creating hardships for them.
Amid tight security, thousands of pilgrims payed their obeisance at the Lord Ayyappa shrine on Saturday, which was also the first day of Malayalam month ‘Vrischikom’. The temple opened on Friday evening for the two-month annual pilgrimage season even as the stand-off over entry of women of menstruating age into the temple continued.
The temple complex and nearby areas had witnessed protests by devotees when it was opened for monthly pujas for eight days in October and early this month against the LDF government’s attempt to implement the apex court verdict allowing women of all age groups to pray at the shrine.
Social activist Trupti Desai, who arrived at Kochi airport Friday en route Sabarimala, was forced to return to Maharashtra after she faced an over 13-hour protest.