Police blocked Sabarimala pilgrims due to security concerns: Devaswom Minister

Minister K Radhakrishnan. Photo: Manorama News

Pathanamthitta: Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan said the police imposed traffic curbs on roads to Sabarimala and blocked vehicles carrying pilgrims due to security concerns. Addressing the media here on Thursday, he claimed that police stopped pilgrims from climbing up the hill shrine to avoid accidents from crowding.

With the Christmas-New Year holidays falling in the final week of December, the inflow of pilgrims is expected to rise in the temple from December 21-26, he said. The number of children visiting the temple too will go up on these dates, he added. 

“Authorities plan to make alternative arrangements to allow the pilgrims to have darshan smoothly. On Wednesday, 91,000 people visited Sabarimala. We want to increase that number. As the inflow of pilgrims is expected to rise, police and Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) have been making efforts to allow more people to ascend the 'padinettam padi',” said the minister. 

Responding to the alleged lapses in foreseeing the huge number of pilgrims, the minister claimed that usually, 15-20 per cent of people who booked darshan via virtual queue facility do not visit the temple. But this time, apart from using spot booking and virtual queue facility, a huge number of people reached the hill shrine through the forest paths and other roads. This threw all calculations out of gear. 

“In the coming days, the TDB will make elaborate arrangements to manage the crowd with the cooperation of police and other departments. Till date, children were not added to the virtual queue facility. So, it was not possible to identify minors among the pilgrims. But soon, an option to book darshan for children will be added to the virtual queue facility,” explained the minister. 

Radhakrishnan also claimed that the government has solved the commuting issues faced by the pilgrims. While travelling with the pilgrims,  the minister claimed that KSRTC buses on the Sabarimala route are better than the Nava Kerala Bus which had made headlines for its luxury facilities.

Meanwhile, Congress workers staged a protest march to Radhakrishnan's office in Chelakkara demanding his resignation for leaving the pilgrims in distress. Police used water cannons to disperse the protesters.

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