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Kerala Govt Planning to Let Women Visit Sabarimala Temple on Separate Days, Says Pinarayi Vijayan

Vijayan said he would talk to the head priest as well as representatives of the Pandalam palace to see if the plan can be implemented.

Updated:November 15, 2018, 4:22 PM IST
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday said his government may arrange separate days for women devotees between the ages of 10 and 50 to visit the Sabarimala shrine, which would open for the Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season on Friday.

Vijayan said he would talk to the head priest as well as representatives of the Pandalam palace to see if the plan can be implemented as he made it clear during an all-party meeting that the government would not back down from implementing the Supreme Court verdict despite opposition from BJP and Congress.

Urging the devotees to understand the government’s compulsion, the CM said their beliefs cannot be above fundamental rights of women. “As a law enforcing land, we don’t have any other way. This is our appeal to devotees,” he said during a press conference.

He added that the government has no prejudice, but was bound by the top court’s order. “The government is with devotees. Will give security to them. There is no need for concern,” he said, stressing on the fact that his government was not being rigid in the matter of faith as alleged by the opposition.

The all-party meet, during which the government had hoped to build consensus ahead of the shrine’s opening, was a fractious affair as the opposing sides failed to find a common ground and Congress leaders walked out, saying the CM was being adamant.

"The government refused to listen to our demands. This is a challenge to devotees. It’s unfortunate that the CM spoiled a golden chance to bring peace in Sabarimala,” state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala said.

Kerala BJP Sreedharan Pillai, who was also part of the meeting, said the NDA would consider extending the Sabarimala agitation outside Kerala, giving an insight into the BJP’s plan to capitalise on the issue ahead of next year’s general election.

He accused the government of being prejudiced, but said the police must be independent, urging the state’s machinery should go against the orders of the government and protect the customs. "The government wants to turn Sabarimala into a battleground, it is mocking the devotees," he added.

When asked if the protests not fall under contempt of the top court, he said that issue would only arise after the final judgment comes out. The Supreme Court had on Monday agreed to hear 49 review petitions challenging its September 28 verdict in open court on January 22, but refused to stay the order allowing women of all ages into the shrine.

| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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