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High Court says remove restrictions, police want them In place

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Despite the Kerala High Court ordering the state government to remove all restrictions placed on devotees trekking to the Sabarimala temple, the latter is planning to reimpose the restrictions .
With the prohibitory orders at Sabarimala and neighbouring areas coming to an end on Thursday, the Kerala police has requested the District Collector to extend Section 144 until January 14,  when the temple closes after the pilgrimage  season. The prohibitory orders were imposed on November 3 following violent protests at Sabarimala over women entry.

In a report submitted to the District Collector, the police have requested for the prohibitory orders to be in place until January 14, citing security reasons. The Collector will take a decision on the same after considering the reports of the executive magistrate as well as the special officer, according to reports.

Over the past few weeks, several right-wing groups, devotee associations and the BJP have protested against the prohibitory orders in place at Sabarimala. BJP leader K Surendran  and other hindu leaders was arrested on Sunday, both for defying the prohibitory orders. Since then, more protests have broken out in the state.

Following this, the Kerala High Court, after hearing three different petitions, ordered the government to remove all the restrictions imposed near the temple. At 12 pm on Thursday, these restrictions, including ones on vehicular traffic to Sabarimala were removed. A decision on extending the prohibitory order will, however, be deliberated on by the government soon.

Meanwhile, the Leader of Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala wrote to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, requesting him to revoke Section 144, as it will “destroy Sabarimala and alienate the devotees”. “The atmosphere at Sabarimala is filled with fear. Imposing section 144 has only kept devotees away from Sabarimala. It has come to a point where pilgrims, who come from outside Kerala, have to return without darshan, out of fear.”

He also noted that it was for the first time in the history of Sabarimala that Section 144 has been imposed. “Because of Section 144, devotees cannot stay at Sabarimala after 11 pm. The police are treating the devotees, who observe the 41-day penance, as terrorists. As a result, they cannot perform neyabhishekam (a pooja using ghee). This has caused a lot of inconvenience to the devotees,” he said.

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