Dalit woman activist won’t be taken to Sabarimala temple on Saturday: Police

Sabarimala, Oct 20 (The Eastern Herald) Manju, a 38-year-old Dalit activist, won’t be taken to the Sabarimala temple on Saturday, police said, adding that they were also checking her antecedents.

“We will not take her (to the temple) today (Saturday). We also are checking her background and more details will be provided tomorrow (Sunday),” Inspector General of Police S. Sreejith said.

Earlier on Saturday, Manju presented herself before Sreejith and Manoj Abraham, another Inspector General of Police, and requested them to facilitate her pilgrimage to the temple in the light of the Supreme Court verdict.

The Supreme Court on September 28 overturned a centuries-old practice that barred women of menstrual age (10-50 years) from entering the hill temple, where a celibate deity Lord Ayyappa is worshipped.

The police officials cautioned her about the risks, as Hindu traditionalists had dug their heels in, opposing the entry of women in the 10-50 age group in defiance of the SC order.

However, Manju, who claimed to be the President of the Kerala Dalit Mahila Federation, would have none of it.

Meanwhile, a woman from Tamil Nadu was allowed inside the Sabarimala temple on Saturday after facing initial protests, as traditionalists presumed her to be below 50 years of age.

Latha, 52, accompanied by her husband and son, was stopped just as she was about to climb the hallowed 18 steps leading to the temple. The protesters presumed her to be below 50, despite her protestations to the contrary.

It was only after the intervention of state BJP leader K. Surendran and others that the devotees allowed Latha to enter the sanctum sanctorum after checking her identity card.

Protesters have blocked the entry of women in the age group of 10-50, in defiance of the SC order, and despite the state government’s assurance to facilitate the entry of women to the shrine.

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