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Sabarimala: Congress-led UDF defies ban orders

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on November 20, 2018 Published on November 20, 2018

The leaders of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala congregated to defy ban orders in force at the Nilackal base camp on Tuesday and highlighted difficulties the pilgrims face at Sabarimala.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and former chief minister Oommen Chandy led 250 UDF workers to defy the prohibitory orders declared by the District Magistrate and staged protest on the road.

Chandy demanded withdrawal of the ban immediately. Other leaders including MK Muneer, NK Premachandran and PJ Joseph addressed the gathering and criticised the government and the police.

Later, the police permitted the UDF leaders and party workers to proceed to Pampa. This prompted Chennnithala to declare victory for the UDF’s first phase of agitation. It proposes to launch more protests across the State.

The party does not intend to relent as a statement made in Kochi on Tuesday by its state leadership signalled fresh moves to intensify the protest at Sabarimala.

SC plea

The party will demand withdrawal of prohibitory orders at Nilackal and other places, end of the ‘police raj’ and restoration of the freedom to perform religious rites and rituals at Sabarimala.

It has also decided extend support to the protest campaigns initiated by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi (Sabarimala Action Council). Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan is being roped in on Wednesday for a visit to the hill shrine.

Meanwhile, reports from New Delhi suggested that the Travancore Devaswom Board, the temple administrator, may not seek an early date for the hearing of its petition seeking more time to implement the September-28 Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages access to the shrine.

The board is learnt to have primarily cited the lack of basic infrastructure to make the arrangements for implementing the verdict as also prevailing the law and order situation. Review petitions on the matter are slated to be heard on January 22 only.

Extension of time is being also sought to meet additional infrastructure needs such as restrooms and washrooms to ensure the safety and well-being of women pilgrims.

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Published on November 20, 2018
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