Police cane charge Sabarimala pilgrims


Thiruvananthapuram : Problems continue to besiege the famed Sabarimala shrine since the festival season began Nov 17 last year. In the latest instance, policemen cane charged devotees to control the surging crowd at the shrine Friday night.

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Former minister and opposition legislator K.B. Ganesh Kumar Saturday said that he had filed a complaint against a policeman whom he had stopped from caning the devotees.

Kumar said: “I am 41 now and have been going for the pilgrimage since I was six. But this is the first time that I witnessed such police brutality on pilgrims. Last night, I caught hold of a policeman using a stick. He resisted and I filed a complaint to his superior and he has now been suspended.”

Around 60,000-70,000 people visit the temple every day during the festival season.

“It is sad that this happens because normally anyone who turns a pilgrim is treated with utmost respect by all,” said Kumar, adding that situation at Sabarimala had never been so grave before.

With the season peaking, the crowds have also increased dramatically.

Last season an estimated three million devotees visited the temple and collections were over Rs.10 million. This time, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) expects a 30 percent increase.

Trouble has been brewing at the Sabarimala temple due to the serious difference of opinion between the president of the TDB C.K. Guptan and two other board members, P. Narayanan and Sumathikutty Amma.

While Guptan has been the nominee of the Communist Party of India-Marxist and is also the son-in-law of legendary Communist E.M.S. Nampoothiripad, Narayanan is a former Communist Party of India legislator and Sumathikutty is a nominee of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

The problems began ever since the TDB took over the production of the prasadam following the failure of the contractor to meet the demand. The daily production of prasadam is around 125,000 cans and due to shortage of cans the authorities have been forced to restrict the supply.