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Sabarimala: UDF leaders to reach Nilackal

Say they will defy prohibitory orders imposed by the police

A galaxy of United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders are scheduled to reach Nilackal on Tuesday morning in open defiance of the prohibitory order imposed by the police in the pilgrim locality.

They include former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala, UDF convenor Benny Behanan, Deputy Opposition Leader M. K. Muneer, Kerala Congress (Joseph) leader P. J. Joseph, Kerala Congress (Jacob) chairman Johnny Nelloor and Communist Marxist Party leader C. P. John.

Scores of UDF workers are expected to accompany the leaders to the base camp 26 km downhill from the temple. The politicians are likely to trek to the forest shrine later in the day.

UDF convenor Benny Behanan told reporters in Pathanamthitta that the Opposition would highlight the lack of camping facilities, including toilets and drinking water, at Sabarimala.

He said the UDF did not intend to foment trouble at Sabarimala. The government had put a police raj in place in the pilgrim locality. He said the imposition of prohibitory orders at Sabarimala was unwarranted, and that it was an affront to pilgrims.

The arbitrary actions on the part of the police, including the removal of devotees from the sanctum area at night, had provided ammunition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hindutva forces, which were intent on communally vitiating the issue.

Top leaders of the BJP are poised to visit the temple in the company of supporters. V. Muralidharan and Nalin Kumar Katil, are expected to reach Nilackal in the morning. The BJP has declared that they would field more national leaders in the coming days to further escalate the “save Sabarimala” campaign.

SHRC visits

The State Human Rights Commission chairman Antony Dominic on Tuesday reached Sabarimala to review the facilities available for pilgrims.

The former Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court said he would study the situation and report his findings to the Government.

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