Kerala CM vows to protect devotees’ rights, blasts Congress, BJP

Kerala CM vows to protect devotees' rights, blasts Congress, BJP
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Thiruvananthapuram: October 16:  Declaring that the Kerala government will protect the rights of all Sabarimala devotees, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday accused the BJP and Congress of trying to destroy the state’s secular fabric by politicising the issue.

Addressing a meeting organised by the CPI-M here, Vijayan went hammer and tongs against both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The Congress has joined the BJP in trying to drive a wedge between the devotees and the government and they are trying to break the secular tradition of our state,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, after presiding over a cabinet meeting, the Chief Minister vowed to protect the rights of the devotees when it was pointed out that vehicles on way to Sabarimla were being checked by those opposed to the Supreme Court ruling also allowing women in the 10-50 age group to enter the famed temple.

Two women journalists were stopped from proceeding to the temple town.

The protesters had gathered at Nilakal, about 20 km from the foothills of the temple, located at Pampa.

“Such a thing cannot be accepted. No one can take law into their hands. The government will ensure that nothing of that sort happens. Those who want to pray cannot be stopped,” said Vijayan.

“We have already made this very clear that we will abide by whatever the apex court verdict is. Now that the verdict has come, we will implement it.”

Congress President Mulapally Ramachandran on Tuesday declared that the party won’t object to any woman coming to the temple but wished that this does not happen.

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“The Vijayan government is trying to make the Sabarimala issue into a conflict zone. The BJP is also trying to make this into another ‘Ayodhya’ issue but they are going to fail badly. The need of the hour is for the Centre to come out with an ordinance,” said Ramachandran.

State BJP president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai expressed full support to the protesting believers.

“Sabarimala temple has its particular set of traditions and culture. We will fully support all those who want the traditions to be kept like that and we will be with them,” said Pillai.

On Tuesday, hundreds of devotees, including a large number of women, protesting against the Supreme Court ruling, gathered at Nilakal and started checking all vehicles bound to the temple town.

The temple opens on Wednesday at 5 p.m. for the customary monthly pujas.

The protesters are said to be mainly locals and others who have arrived from nearby areas.

Meanwhile, the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB), the custodian of the temple, on Tuesday met the Pandalam royal family, representatives of the Sabarimala Tantri family and other Hindu organisations to see how best the controversy can be resolved but the deadlock continued.

“We demanded that the TDB should file a review petition today itself, which they said was not possible. So we felt that there was no reason to go ahead with the meeting,” said Sasikumar Varma, a member of the Pandalam royal family.

TDB President A. Padmakumar told the media that they were willing to undertake more talks and all issues would be discussed at a meeting on October 19.

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Source: IANS