Thiruvananthapuram: Minister for Devaswom, K Radhakrishnan, said in the Assembly on Wednesday that pilgrims' safety was more important than faith.
The minister was responding to a query on the virtual queue system at Sabarimala made by former leader of the opposition, Ramesh Chennithala.
The state government had proposed to continue with virtual booking to restrict rush at the famous Ayyappa temple considering the COVID-19 situation. The pilgrimage season will begin on November 16 and the government has decided to permit 25,000 pilgrims per day.
Dubbing the virtual queue system as 'unscientific', Chennithala asked the government to do away with it as it was a 'burden on pilgrims'.
"When the government has lifted restrictions on bars and malls, I cannot see the logic behind having a virtual queue system for Sabarimala,” Chennithala said.
“The High Court had taken a suo moto observation on the unscientific nature of the system. Pilgrims from Andhra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are facing difficulty due to it. Hence I request the government to have a rethink.”
Minister Radhakrishnan replied: "On October 7, a high-level meeting was held, in which this issue was raised. The chief minister had said it will be reconsidered once the pandemic situation subsides."
The minister claimed that many "book for fun". "From tens of thousands of bookings, only 4,000 or 5,000 come. The pilgrims must be sincere and discontinue bogus registration. The government wants more pilgrims to visit. Faith must be protected, but breath is more important than faith," said the minister before reiterating the last part as if to ensure that his inference was clear for all legislators.