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Restrictions to be enforced tonight for Sabarimala reopening on Monday

Thiruvananthapuram/Pathnamthitta: With the Lord Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala all set to open for a day’s puja on November 5, prohibitory orders will come into force from Saturday night till Tuesday at the foothills Pamba and other areas to prevent any untowards incidents, police said.

Sabarimala will be under heavy security cover from Saturday night in the backdrop of the violent protests witnessed last month against entry of young women in the 10-50 age group.

Prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC banning assembly of four or more people would be clamped at Pamba, Nilakkal and Illuvangal, according to police sources. The shrine had been opened for five days from October 17-22 for monthly pujas when it witnessed angry protests by devotees and other outfits over entry of women in the ‘barred’ age group.

At least a dozen young women had made a vain attempt to offer prayers, but had to retreat following protests against the CPI(M)-led LDF government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court order permitting women of all ages to trek the hills. Some 543 cases have been registered in connection with the violent protests and 3,701 people arrested till Thursday, according to police.

BJP observed a hartal (shutdown) in Pathanamthitta on Friday after the body of a missing Ayyappa devotee was recovered. The party alleged that he had died in police action against protesting devotees at Nilakkal.

However, the post-mortem conducted at the Kottayam medical college hospital revealed that the pilgrim, Sivadasan, (60) had bled to death following serious injuries in one of his legs.

The Pathnamthitta SP, T Narayanan said Sivadasan had come to offer prayers at the temple on October 18 and had spoken to his family the next day before returning. As he did not return home, his son had filed a missing complaint on October 21.

The SP also refuted the allegation that man had lost his life during police action at Nilakkal on October 16, 17.

Shops and business establishments had downed shutters and buses and autorickshaws stayed off the roads in the area following the hartal.

Describing the BJP protest as “unnecessary”, Devaswom (temple administration) Minister Kadakampally Surendran said it was only to cause difficulties to the people. Even the deceased’s family has not alleged there was any foul play, he told reporters. Alleging that a “false campaign” was on against the police, a senior official said he had died in an accident.

Meanwhile, an office of caste-based outfit Nair Service Society (NSS), which is opposing the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple, was vandalised in Kerala early Friday, police said.

The office situated in Nemom near Thiruvananthapuram was allegedly pelted with stones by miscreants, who destroyed its flag pole and broke the window panes of a memorial of saint-reformer Chattampi Swamy, located in front of the building, they said.

The Indian Police Service (IPS) Association of Kerala on Friday condemned the verbal and digital attack against certain police officers in the state in connection with the recent Sabarimala incidents.

In a resolution passed at a meeting here, the association said attempt has been made to “vilify” and “intimidate” police officers who carried out their duties during the recent violent protests held against the entry of women all ages into to the Sabarimala shrine.