Kerala LoP levels allegations of mismanagement during Sabarimala pilgrimage


PTI, Dec 30, 2023, 1:58 PM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly V D Satheesan has accused the state government, including the police and the Devaswom Board, of failing to effectively organise the first phase of the Sabarimala pilgrimage.

Satheesan expressed his concerns in a letter addressed to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, urging him to ensure flawless arrangements for devotees during the upcoming Makaravilakku pilgrimage.

The Lord Ayyappa temple here closed late Wednesday night after Mandala Pooja.

Highlighting the alleged failures of various departments during the Mandala season, he said the state government and the Devaswom Board have miserably failed to provide smooth darshan and basic infrastructure for the pilgrims.

Criticising the government’s handling of the pilgrimage, Satheesan, in his letter, also highlighted the unprecedented challenges faced by devotees.

“It is sad that, for the first time in the history of the most important pilgrimage centre in India, the plight of devotees was such that they were forced to end their pilgrimage halfway with their garlands removed,” the Leader of Opposition said.

He pointed out instances of extreme laxity in crowd control, with queues stretching for 15 to 20 hours from Pampa to Sannidhanam.

“It was heartbreaking to see children, women, and the elderly queuing up for hours without water or food,” Satheesan alleged.

He called for an immediate end to what he termed the ‘police raj’ and criticised the government’s reluctance to appoint an adequate number of policemen with experience in coordinating operations at Sabarimala.

“The police work at Sabarimala was poor. The government didn’t appoint enough policemen. They were unwilling to deploy experienced officers at Sabarimala, making things worse. There are complaints that the police treated devotees badly and cruelly,” he alleged.

Satheesan concluded his letter by demanding corrective actions, emphasising the need to rectify lapses that occurred during the Mandala Puja season and ensure flawless arrangements for the Makaravilakku pilgrimage.

The temple is scheduled to reopen on the evening of December 30 (Saturday) for the Makaravilakku festivities.

Various rituals, including ‘prasada shudha kriya’ and ‘bimba shudha kriya,’ are planned to be held on January 13 and 14, preceding the Makaravilakku festival on January 15, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the hill shrine, has said.

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