BJP observes protest against police high-handedness at Sabarimala

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Thiruvananthapuram : The state BJP on Tuesday observed a state-wide protest against the manner in which the devotees were "roughed-up" in and around the Sabarimala temple town last week when they did not allow a woman devotee in the age group of 10-50 to enter the temple.

Tuesday's protest is the first in a series of planned protests to ensure that Sabarimala's tradition of keeping away women in the age group of 10 to 50 was kept intact.

Over 3,500 protesters have been arrested till now and around 100 are still in judicial custody for the strong position they took against the September 28 Supreme Court ruling that allowed all women to pray at the temple.

Leading the protest in the state capital, a few hundred metres from the office of the state police chief, was Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state President P.S. Sreedharan Pillai.

Joining the protesters here was Emmanuel Milan, a Class 11 student and the grandson of veteran Communist leader M. M. Lawerence.

Similar protests were held by the BJP in all the 13 district headquarters of the state.

The temple closed after five days of monthly puja on October 22 and the strong protests of the devotees stopped 12 women who tried to go up to the temple with police security.

The temple will now open at 5 p.m. on November 5 and close the next day at 10 p.m. and Pillai has said that they will be out in full strength and will support the devotees' wishes when the temple opens.

In a related development, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday failed to intervene in a petition demanding a judicial probe into the police action at the temple town last week.

The court said it cannot prevail upon the state government to order a judicial probe as it can only be done by the state cabinet.

Later, the petitioner said he is withdrawing his petition and was allowed to do so.