Friday, October 19, 2018

Devaswom Board ‘Ready To Compromise’

Devaswom Board ‘Ready To Compromise’

Shabarimalai: In what could be seen as a breakthrough in the ongoing Sabarimalai protests, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president A Padmakumar has said on Thursday, 18th October 2018 evening,  that board is willing to file the review petition if protesters call off their agitation.

 "We're ready to compromise. Will the protesters call off agitation if the board files review petition? Padmakumar said.

"Board is free to take independent decisions. It can take a call on review petition as well," Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran said.

Woman stayed away: Women of the ages hitherto barred from entering the famed Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala stayed away for a second day on October 18 following uneasy calm in Kerala amid a dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by outfits owing loyalty to Hindu groups and the BJP.

Tension prevailed on October 18, a day after the opening of the short five-day pilgrimage season in the wake of the protest shutdown against the alleged police attack on protesters on October 17 even as a senior member of the Sabarimala priest’s family urged women from the 10-50 age group to respect tradition and not visit the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

While on October 17 a couple of women devotees were prevented from undertaking the trek to the hill temple and some women journalists were stopped from proceeding with their coverage amidst violence by activists of Hindu groups affiliated to the BJP and RSS, no women devotee of the ages that have been allowed darshan by the Supreme Court turned up on on October 18.

At the end of the day, A. Padmakumar, president of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the custodian of the temple, told the media they were ready to go to any extent to resolve the issue.

“Tomorrow we are having a meeting and we wish to ask if the protests will be called off if we decide to file a review petitition against the Supreme Court verdict (allowing women of all ages)?” asked Mr. Padmakumar, also a senior CPI(M) leader.

On October 18 morning, Suhasini Raj, who works as the India reporter for The New York Times, along with a foreign national colleague, managed to go past the Pampa gateway but was stopped midway by angry devotees who erected a human wall before her.

“I had reached half way and then the protests grew stronger. I was hit by a stone and then we decided to return. The police had provided us all the security,” said Ms. Raj, who had earlier pointed out that she came to do her job to speak to devotees.

Pathanamthitta District Collector P.B. Nooh told the media on October 18 afternoon that Section 144 was in force and would be there till October 19 midnight. Police would provide security to any woman who wished to go and pray, he said.

Of the 30 protesters arrested on October 17, 20 were produced before the Magistrate Court in Ranni near Sabarimala and remanded to two weeks judicial custody. The arrested activists included a member of the Tantri family, Rahul Eashwar.

The State-wide shutdown called by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi on October 18 was largely peaceful in Kerala and saw only a few private vehicles ply on the roads.

Stray incidents of protesters pelting stones on state-run buses in some parts of Kozhikode, Malappuram and Thiruvanathapuram were reported, prompting the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation to suspend operations.

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