The Kerala Police has released photographs of over 200 people suspected to have been involved in the protests at Sabarimala to prevent the entry of women of menstrual age into the Lord Ayyappa shrine last week.
Special teams would be formed in all districts to identify the suspects whose photographs were released on Wednesday, police sources said.
Pathanamthitta district police chief T Narayanan said a list of 210 people, suspected to have taken part in the protests and their photographs have been sent to Superintendents of Police of various districts for identification.
Meanwhile, as part of steps to beef up security at the ‘Sannidhanam’ (temple complex), it has been decided to deploy 5,000 additional police personnel during the three-month-long ‘mandalam-makaravillaku’ season starting on November 17.
The number of police personnel at Sannidhanam, Pamba and Nilakkal would also be increased and more CCTV cameras would be installed, a police press note said.
Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakkampally Surendran Thursday claimed that effective police intervention had foiled the protestors’ bid to “desecrate” the Ayyappa Temple by spilling blood in the premises if women devotees in the 10-50 age group offered prayers.
He said the “conspiracy” of the devotees was made clear by Ayyappa Dharma Sena president Rahul Easwar, who had said that the faithful had plans to make the Lord Ayyappa shrine “impure” by spilling blood on its premises, forcing its closure if young girls and women devotees tried to enter the shrine.
“This was a planned attempt to desecrate the holy temple, but effective police intervention defeated their efforts,” Surendran told reporters.
Easwar, who belongs to the Thazhamon family of Sabarimala tantris (priests), had said they had drawn up a contingency plan to force the closure of the temple in case young devotees in the “barred” age group managed to reach the shrine for darshan.
The Minister said this disclosure showed that there was a well-conceived plan, similar to that followed by nations to attack their enemies and added that this attempt was not only seditious but also against the interest of devotees.
Rahul Easwar had said that the faithful were prepared to inflict knife injuries on themselves on the temple premises, which would have forced the priests to close the gates.
So far, not a single woman in the age group of 10 and 50 have reached the temple.
Though attempts had been made by some young women, including an activist, to enter the temple of the ‘Naishtik Brahmachari’, the eternally celibate deity, the devotees backed by priests have stood their ground, saying they would not allow the tradition to be breached.
According to police sources, 12 women in the 10-50 age group have so far been prevented from offering worship at the temple, after it opened for the monthly pooja.
Kerala witnessed a series of agitations by various devotee groups and Hindu outfits against the Pinarayi Vijayan government’s decision to implement the apex court order without going for any review petition.
The Supreme Court, last month, had struck down a rule that disallowed girls and women in the age group of 10-50 years from entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
(With PTI inputs)