Af­ter a lull, long queues, packed crowds back in Sabari­mala tem­ple

Sec­tion 144 ex­tended till mid­night of Dec 12

The Free Press Journal - - NATION -

Af­ter a 20-day lull since the an­nual pil­grim sea­son be­gan, long queues and packed crowds are back at the Lord Ayyappa Tem­ple here, which had wit­nessed a dras­tic dip in pil­grim ar­rivals in the ini­tial weeks.

The lift­ing of re­stric­tions im­posed by po­lice and ease in ten­sion that had pre­vailed at the shrine, fol­low­ing protests against the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Supreme Court ver­dict, per­mit­ting women of all age groups, have trig­gered high in­flow of devo­tees af­ter the ini­tial lull.

Ac­cord­ing to tem­ple sources, over 85,126 pil­grims vis­ited the hill top tem­ple on Fri­day alone, in­di­cat­ing a steady in­crease in the foot­falls. While the head count was 79,306 on De­cem­ber 3, it was 61,037 on De­cem­ber 4 and 51,335 on De­cem­ber 5, as per the fig­ures, re­ports PTI.

Over 45,000 pil­grims had vis­ited the Lord Ayyappa tem­ple on De­cem­ber 6, the an­niver­sary of the Babari Masjid de­mo­li­tion day, though there had been ex­tra vigil and ad­di­tional se­cu­rity ar­range­ments at tem­ple com­plex.

Un­like the pre­vi­ous years, the tem­ple wore a de­serted look for many days af­ter it opened for the over two-month-long monthly pil­grim sea­son on Novem­ber 16.

The num­ber of devo­tees, who had of­fered prayers at the shrine, was just 28,717 on Novem­ber 16, as per fig­ures. A tem­ple re­lease said nine lakh devo­tees had so far wor­shipped at the shrine since it opened for the pil­grim sea­son.

The in­tense protests by devo­tees and right wing groups against the LDF gov­ern­ment's de­ci­sion to im­ple­ment the Septem­ber 28 apex court ver­dict on the en­try of young women had dis­tanced pil­grims away from the for­est tem­ple, lo­cated in the West­ern Ghats.

The Pathanamthitta dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tion on Satur­day ex­tended pro­hibitory or­ders is­sued un­der Sec­tion 144 of the Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure Code (CrPC) im­posed in and around Sabari­mala tem­ple ar­eas till the mid­night of De­cem­ber 12, re­ports ANI.

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