Manhandling devotees: HC asks TDB to share details of action taken against Sabarimala guard

Though the TDB president admitted that the action was 'inappropriate', he had hinted the Board would not take an action against the person concerned. Photo: Abhijith Ravi.

Kochi: A day after a video went viral that showed a guard appointed by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) pushing and shoving devotees at Sabarimala, the Kerala High Court on Monday directed the Board to give details of the guard concerned and the action, if any, taken against him.

Taking a serious note of how the guard regulated devotees who arrived for the Makaravilakku ritual on January 14, a bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajithkumar said it was a "flagrant violation of the directions issued by this ".

"The manner in which the Devaswom guard by name, 'Arun', regulated the movement of pilgrims in front of Sreekovil, through the first row, was in flagrant violation of the directions issued by this court in the decision in Sajeev Sastharam," the bench said.

The incident occurred while the guard was regulating the huge rush of devotees at the shrine on January 14 after Lord Ayyappa was adorned with the holy jewels, 'Thiruvabharanam'.

Though the TDB president admitted that the action was  'inappropriate', he hinted the Board would not take an action against the person concerned. "Pilgrims should not have been treated like that. But the rush was out of control. The police also had a hard time. The police also sought the help of Devaswom guards to control the crowd," said TDB president K Ananthagopan.

During the proceedings, the bench said that it had in another petition -- Sajeev Sastharam vs. State of Kerala -- directed the guards engaged by the TDB and the police officers on duty at Sopanam to regulate the movement of devotees through the barricades in an appropriate manner that would cause least inconvenience to pilgrims.

However, on January 14, after the deity was adorned with the 'Thiruvabharanam', "there occurred certain issues on crowd management, in front of Sreekovil at Sannidhanam," the bench said.

It further said that how the guard acted violated the high court orders on crowd management.

The court also called for reports regarding the incident from the Special Police Officer at Sannidhanam and the Sopanam Officer.

The amicus curiae in the case told the bench that the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala would also be filing a report on the incident.

(With PTI inputs)

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