'I am a Man', 'I am 52', 'I am Not Kalavathi': The Embarrassing Gaffes in Kerala Govt's Sabarimala List
Kerala government’s list of 51 female devotees below 50 who entered the Sabarimala temple mentions two men and a 52-year-old woman.
A woman shouts slogans against gender discrimination at the "women's wall" in Thiruvananthapuram on January 1, 2019. (AP)
Thiruvananthapuram: Naan oru aambilai (I am a male). This was Chennai-based 47-year-old Paramjyothi’s response to a slew of reporters who called him up after his name showed up in Kerala government’s list of 51 ‘female devotees’ who entered the Sabarimala temple since Supreme Court overturned a traditional ban.
Shankar, a taxi driver from Puducherry, is also busy juggling phone calls during work. His mobile number has been mentioned against the name ‘Kalavathi’ in the list submitted by the government to the Supreme Court.
Sheela, a Chennai-based homemaker, also figures in the list of 51 women under the age of 50. Sheela, however, says she is 52 years old and attributes the ‘typo’ in her age to the agent who entered her details while registering online for darshan at the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
Riddled with such discrepancies, the list was submitted by the Kerala government to the Supreme Court, following which several women named told the media that they were older than 51.
In no time, the Congress and the BJP, which have been opposing the Kerala government’s decision to implement the SC order, lashed out at Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for “trying to misguide the Supreme Court”.
“It is shameful… Since the beginning, the state government was playing a dirty game over Sabarimala. The Chief Minister must explain why this happened in the Supreme Court,” Leader of Opposition and Congress’ Ramesh Chennithala said.
KPCC Chief Mullappally Ramachandran also blamed Vijayan and the Home department for the “goof-up”.
The BJP which is fighting a war against the SC order termed the statement as "a ploy to influence the review petition pending at the SC". “The Chief Minister must clarify whether he received any reward for destroying the Sabarimala temple by taking the women (under 50) there," said BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai.
Devswom Minister Kadakampilly, who had earlier backed the list, refused to comment after the discrepancies were reported.
Travancore Devswom Board, the custodian of the temple, chose to keep away from the controversy. “The TDB cannot answer this. You must ask those who submitted the list,” board member KP Shankaradas told a news channel. He, however, added that the women “may be telling their correct age now”.
According to the Kerala government, more than 16 lakh devotees have registered online to visit Sabarimala through the digital queue management system managed by the state police. Of them, 8.2 lakh devotees have visited the temple. As many as 7,564 women in the age group of 10 to 50 registered online, and 51 of them have visited so far. "This does not include many others who have come as ‘normal’ pilgrims and not availed the online facility. A total number of 44 lakh pilgrims visited the temple from November 16, 2018 till date," the government submitted in court.
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