Sabarimala, November 18: Twenty-eight people were taken into preventive custody at the Sabarimala Temple late Sunday night after fresh protests broke out at Nadapanthal area in Sannidhanam where hundreds of devotees agitated against the police restrictions. On the second day of the two month-long pilgrimage season, the devotees gathered at the covered pathway to the temple when they were asked to leave Sannidhanam.
Due to the early incidents of violence at the hill-top shrine, the police had imposed strict restrictions for devotees at Sannidhanam, including not allowing them to stay back in the night. Superintendent of Police (special officer) Pratheesh Kumar said the 28 people were detained for violating Section 144 that prohibits assembly of more than four people at a spot. Sabarimala Temple Row: Kerala Government Considering Using Helicopters to Fly Women Devotees to Holy Shrine.
Kerala: Visuals of devotees protesting at Nadapanthal area in Sannidhanam last night. They were protesting as the police did not allow them to stay overnight at Nadapanthal. They were later detained by police. #SabarimalaTemple pic.twitter.com/hbcau9xy8r
— ANI (@ANI) November 19, 2018
"Section 144 had been declared in the area. We had asked them to disperse after the Harivarasanam but most of them refused," the SP said. He said the police was not against devotees offering prayers. "Those who have to offer 'neyyabhishekam' (anointing deity with ghee) can stay back. They can recite prayers also. We are not against it. The police will assist those who want to offer prayers," he said.
Currently, the police, led by the SP, is taking the detained protesters to the Pamba police station which is around 3.5 km downhill. Police sources said they had information that the protesters might create trouble at Sannidhanam and they had taken precautions accordingly. Rajesh, one of the protesters, said, "We are devotees and we started reciting prayers but the police did not allow us, saying section 144 (prohibitory orders) has been imposed." He said he did not mind getting arrested for reciting prayers at Sannidhanam.