Ahead of the temple’s scheduled opening on Monday for just a day, Kerala’s Sabarimala town, where the famed Lord Ayyappa shrine is located, came under complete police control on Saturday. The Sabarimala row has entered its 40th day since in a verdict on 28 September, the Supreme Court allowed women of all age groups to enter the temple, a decision which led to mass protests.
According to Pathanamthitta district police, around 1,500 police officials have been deployed in the temple town and will remain till the midnight of 6 November when the temple will close again. However, the police have said that they have not received any application from women seeking a visit to Lord Ayyappa. “If there are any requests, the police will see that the apex court verdict is carried out. None other than the pilgrims would be given permission to the designated areas of the temple,” a senior police official said. The security arrangements are being monitored by the Additional Director General of Police Anil Kanth. According to the police, no one is allowed to remain in the pathway that leads to the temple, right from the Pamba base camp and also in the areas closer to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Restrictions have been clamped for the media and they will only be allowed to reach the temple town on 5 November. Till Saturday, police registered 536 cases and arrested 3,719 persons, who protested last month when the temple opened for six days. Only around 100 are still in jail, while the rest have secured bail.