Women officers at Pampa base camp had verified the identity proof furnished by a broad set of pilgrims from Vijayawada, and found that several women were under the age of 50
The Kerala police on Friday “advised” at least 10 women under the age of 50 against trekking up to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple from Pampa base camp, nearly 6 km downhill from the sanctum (Sannidhanam).
The police response to the arrival of women pilgrims at Pampa was widely perceived as a clear manifestation of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government’s “modified” stance that the law enforcement was under no legal compulsion to escort women to worship at the Ayyappa temple.
According to officials at the Police Headquarters here, women officers at Pampa had, as part of established security protocol, verified the identity proof furnished by a broad set of pilgrims from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh.
They found several women were under the age of 50. The law enforcers apprised them of the dispute over the entry of women between the age of 10 and 50 and the Supreme Court’s rulings in the matter.
The police claimed the women had, “on their own volition”, decided to abandon their plan to trek uphill to Sannidhanam, and there was no compulsion on the part of the force.
Devaswom Board Minister Kadakampally Surendran had said on Thursday that it was not contingent on the government to escort women activists to the Ayyappa temple unless they arrived with a warrant for the State’s assistance from the Supreme Court.
The Government had received the legal opinion that the State was under no juridical requirement to proactively ensure that women between the age of 10 and 50 worshipped at Sabarimala, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to form a seven-member constitutional bench to look into the case further.
State Police Chief Loknath Behera told reporters that he would seek further legal clarification regarding the entry of women from Advocate General C.P. Sudhakar Prasad on the issue.
Activists being tracked
Meanwhile, the State police said they were tracking the travel plans of women activists, including that of Trupti Desai who on Saturday reiterated her decision to pray at Sabarimala despite the Government’s stance.
Ms. Desai’s attempt to visit the temple last year had precipitated a law and order situation. Scores of belligerent Sangh Parivar workers had besieged her at the Kochi airport, forcing her to abandon her plan. An attempt by Manithi Sangham, a Tamil Nadu based women’s group, had also provoked resistance from Sabarimala Karma Samithi workers and led to rioting.