Dozens arrested around flashpoint Sabarimala temple in India


The police said they imposed prohibitory orders at Elumvakal, Nilackal, Pampa, and the Sannidhanam to prevent those opposed to the court verdict from turning these localities into protest zones.

Among the several hundred thousand people who have registered to pray at the temple over the coming weeks are around 700 women, setting the stage for a major showdown.

"We arrested 70 devotees after overnight protests around Sabarimala", V N Saji, assistant commissioner of police, said.

The Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the Sabarimala shrine, would move the SC on Monday seeking more time to implement its order allowing women of menstrual age to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple.

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Local media reports said about 2,000 protestors gathered around a police station in Pathanamthitta district, 65 kilometres (40 miles) from the temple, where Sasikala was being held.

"The Sangh Parivar successfully used the Ayodhya issue and is now trying to exploit the Sabarimala temple on similar lines", said Ramachandran. As many as 68 devotees were also arrested.

Activists say that the ban at Sabarimala reflects an old view that connects menstruation with impurity.

Surendran and his party have been up in arms against the Vijayan government, which according to them, is determined to see that a woman in the hitherto "banned" age group is allowed "darshan" at the temple and they have vowed that the temple traditions will not be breached.

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One exception was N.S Prakash Rao, from Vishakhapattanam in Andhra Pradesh. "Times have changed and so should we", he told AFP. They all are not Sangh Parivar activists who reached there to create trouble.

One such activist is Trupti Desai. "They have threatened violence if they do", Desai told Indian television.

"We are talking with leaders of other states". They also requested the pilgrims who are undertaking the trip not to donate any cash or other materials to the temple because the entire offerings by the pilgrims are being diverted to the CPI-M coffers. I would appeal to the government to provide a security which can take women to the temple.

But the talks ended late Thursday in an acrimonious failure. He said, "A situation worse than emergency is happening here".

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So far, the state government in Kerala has pledged to uphold the court's verdict but has refrained from enforcing it fully, fearing clashes between protesters and police officers.