Temple to open at 5 p.m. today
With hardly 24 hours left for the beginning of the annual pilgrimage season on Saturday, the Kerala Police have brought Sabarimala and the pilgrim base camps at Pampa and Nilackal under strict vigil in view of the ongoing protests by various Right-wing organisations against the Supreme Court verdict permitting entry for women of all ages to the Ayyappa temple.
The police have deployed a 4,500-strong force at Sabarimala, Pampa and Nilackal. A posse of 1,600 policemen headed by Inspector General of Police Vijay Sakre has already been deployed at Sabarimala alone.
Some 900 policewomen would be deployed at the three places.
A company each of the National Disaster Response Force and the Rapid Action Force attached to the Central Reserve Police Force will be deployed at Sabarimala from Friday.
District Collector P.B. Noohu has promulgated prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure at Sabarimala, Pampa, Nilackal and Elavumkal for seven days from November 15 midnight to November 22 midnight. Prayer sessions, protest marches and other unlawful gatherings have been prohibited in the specified areas for three days. However, the orders would in no way affect the pilgrimage.
The District Police Chief had suggested clamping of prohibitory orders at these three places for two months, from November 14 to January 14, 2019.
No special protection
The government has said it would not provide any special protection, other than the existing tight security arrangements being made at the pilgrim centre, for Bhoomata Brigade leader Tripthi Desai who had sought special protection for herself and a six-member team of young women who would be reaching Kerala en route to Sabarimala on Friday. As many as 800 women in the restricted 10-50 age group have registered on the police website for holy darshan during the season, sources said.
State Police Chief Loknath Behera says the police have made every possible arrangements to ensure the safety of all pilgrims, including women, visiting Sabarimala.
The temple will be opened at 5 p.m. on Friday.