HC asks police to remove barricades at prime spots in Sabarimala

HC asks police to remove barricades at prime spots in Sabarimala
Police commando keeps vigil as devotees wait to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa temple when it was opened for the annual pilgrim season on November 17, 2018. Photo: PTI

Kochi: The Kerala High Court Wednesday directed police to remove barricades at prime spots in the temple complex of the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala.

It also directed police to lift restrictions like blocking pilgrims at Sharamkuthi, en route to the 'sannidhanam' or temple complex, after 11.30 pm.

A division bench of justices Ramachandra Menon and N Anil Kumar said its earlier order that there should not be any protest in Sabarimala stands intact.

The bench also approved the report of the three-member monitoring commission appointed by it on November 28 to oversee the pilgrimage at Sabarimala temple.

The court had appointed the three-member panel to oversee the pilgrimage at Sabarimala temple and said there should not be any more protests at the shrine, which witnessed a series of violent incidents after the September 28 Supreme Court verdict, allowing women of all ages into the shrine.

It had, while hearing a bunch of petitions questioning restrictions at the temple, said the three observers would monitor the pilgrimage and report to the court.

The court Wednesday said that depending on the intensity of the crowd, police can take appropriate measures to manage the crowd and inflow without causing inconvenience to pilgrims.

Restrictions can be requisite or to the optimum extent, but not beyond that, the court held.

It also was of the view that police were at liberty to maintain law and order in the hill shrine complex.

Meanwhile, the prohibitory orders imposed in Sabarimala and surrounding areas have been extended till December 16. The decision was taken by the district administration after the police submitted a report seeking the extension of Section 144 till January 14. Prohibitory orders are in force at Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal and Elavunkal.

Meanwhile, Crime Brance IG S Sreejith has been given the charge of security of the Pamba and Sannidhanam areas from December 15 to 30, DGP Lok Nath Behra said Wednesday.

Intelligence DIG S Surendran would be in charge of Nilackal, Vadasserikkara and Erumeli, the DGP said in a release.

Kozhikode Rural Police chief G Jayadev, Crime Branch SP P B Rajiv have been appointed as police controllers at the Sannidhanam.