Thiruvananthapuram: Several Hindu outfits have called for a ‘hartal’ or strike in Kerala today, in protest against the state government’s decision to allow women of reproductive age to enter the Sabarimala temple. However, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and a few other organisations have clarified that they do not the support the state-wide bandh called for Monday.
The Ayyappa Sena, one of the groups which have called for the hartal, has warned that it would stop women at the base camp in Pamba, if the centuries-old traditions and rituals are “diluted”, Hindustan Times reported. Meanwhile, the state government has said that strict action will be taken against those who cause disruptions.
As per the Times of India report, the state government has asked the law and order agencies to be on high alert to avert any untoward incidents during the hartal. The state police is also keeping an eye out on social media messages to prevent the spread of any misleading messages pertaining to the hartal, the Deccan Chronicle reported.
Till now, women of reproductive age (from 10 to 50 years old) are only allowed till Pamba base river camp, before the 5 km trek on the hills towards the holy shrine begins. Women devotees have to show their proof of age to women cops deployed at the base camp before proceeding further.
Meanwhile, speaking about Monday’s ‘hartal’ RSS leader P Gopalankutty Master told Hindustan Times, “We don’t support any such move. We feel the temple issue should not be taken to the streets. We feel the Supreme Court will take into account the temple rituals and customs and hear all people, including the tantri (supreme priest), before taking a final decision.”
Gopalankutty said that he was forced to issue a clarification of RSS’ participation after some people mistook Ayyappa Sena to be affiliated with the right-wing organisation. Other groups such as the Nair Service Society and SNDP (which is an organisation of Ezhavas) has disowned the hartal. On the other hand, organisations participating in the hartal include, Ram Sena, Hanuman Sena, Ayyappa Dharma Sena and Vishal Vishwakarma Aikya Vedi, ANI reported.
The case regarding women’s entry into Sabarimala is being heard by a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The bench is expected to deliver a verdict in the case soon. On July 18, the top court bench had observed that banning the entry of women into the holy shrine by temple authorities was “unconstitutional.”
The Kerala government, led by CPI(M)’s Pinarayi Vijayan, has told the court that it supports allowing women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple.