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Kerala HC rules no more protests at Sabarimala temple

Kochi, Nov 27 (IANS) The Kerala High Court on Tuesday ruled that there should be no more protests at the Sabarimala temple during the ongoing pilgrimage season.

It also asked the police to deal properly with the pilgrims, allowed the pilgrims to chant Lord Ayyappa hymns, but refused to lift prohibitory orders in place in and around the temple town.

Sabarimala town has been witnessing repeated protests ever since the September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the temple that hitherto banned girls and women aged 10-50.

The High Court Devasom bench of Justice P.R. Ramachandran Menon ruled this after hearing around 30 petitions that came up before it.

It directed the Kerala government to submit in a sealed cover what arrangements had been made for women in the 10-50 age group if they desire to pray at the temple.

The court refused to interfere on the action of the Kerala Police which on Monday extended Section 144 of CrPC that prohibits assembly of more than four persons in one place till November 30.

But it asked the police to see that there should be no protests in the temple. And while the police could conduct searches, these should be done in a decent manner.

Since the ongoing two-month pilgrimage season opened on November 16, around 85 activists of the Sangh parivar including BJP and RSS have been arrested. Most have secured bail.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government-led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has been trying to implement the top court’s order even as the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu groups have been up in arms against it.

The court also set up a three-member observer panel which will oversee the Sabarimala pilgrimage season.

The court ruled that arrangements should be made for women (above 50 years), children and physically challenged pilgrims to rest near the temple.

The court, without naming a police official who was reportedly rash with a High Court judge who went to Sabarimala to pray, said had not the judge forgiven the police officer, tough actions would have been taken.

–IANS
sg/mr

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