Kerala withdraws Sabarimala handbook after protests | India News – Times of India

KOTTAYAM: The LDF government in Kerala on Thursday withdrew a controversial directive in a handbook distributed by the home department among police personnel on duty at Sabarimala, which said that “all pilgrims” were permitted to enter the temple as per the September 2018 Supreme Court verdict. The state government withdrew the directive after BJP took up the issue alleging that it had a ‘malicious motive’.
Despite the SC ruling that all pilgrims – including women of all ages – can enter the shrine, the temple continues with its tradition of restricting the entry of women belonging to the 10-50 age group since Lord Ayyappa is considered an eternal celibate. The LDF government had initially tried to facilitate the entry of women following the SC’s order, but it did a U-turn following a strong backlash. The state government has since been treading cautiously on the issue.
The home department had distributed the handbook on Wednesday and by Thursday morning, BJP protested, warning the government that it would have far-reaching consequences. Later in the day, devaswom minister K Radhakrishnan told reporters at Sabarimala that the particular directive was withdrawn. He clarified that the directive appeared in this year’s handbook by mistake. “The government has no ill-motive in the matter. If there are any lapses in the directives, directions will be given to withdraw it,” he said.
The minister also sought an explanation from the ADGP, M R Ajith Kumar, on the lapse. The officer admitted it was a “mistake which happened due to carelessness”. He said a new handbook would be distributed soon.
Without directly mentioning about the entry of women at Sabarimala and the agitations that followed in 2018, BJP state chief K Surendran said, “If the decision is to turn Sabarimala into a war zone again and to target believers, we haven’t forgotten anything. The government had backtracked from those things before. If you are coming up again with such moves, it will have far-reaching consequences,” he said.

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