Kerala Government revealed the information that 51 women entered Sabarimala temple in Supreme Court, during the hearing of a plea by two women who had entered the Sabarimala temple on January 2. (Representative Image) Image Courtesy: Sailesh, Wikimedia
In a stunning revelation, the Kerala government told the Supreme Court that at least 51 women between the ages of 10 and 50 had entered the Sabarimala temple in the aftermath of the court’s verdict permitting women of all ages to enter the shrine. The information was provided to the court by Kerala government’s lawyer during a hearing on a plea by two women, Bindu and Kanagadurga, who had visited the Sabarimala temple on 2 January 2019, and were seeking protection following threats.
Over the past few months, right-wing elements in Kerala, under the banner of the Sabarimala Karma Samithi and other organisations, have waged an aggressive campaign to prevent women in that age group from entering Sabarimala temple. These groups have indulged in hooliganism and violence. On the other hand, certain sections have criticised Kerala government for not being pro-active enough in ensuring the entry of women.
Today’s information demonstrates that away from the media spotlight and the activities of these groups, the Kerala government has silently been implementing the Supreme Court verdict. The information on the number of women who have entered the Sabarimala temple is based on the registrations in the online system run by the Kerala government.
The entry of over 50 women also punctures the argument raised by these groups that women between the ages of 10 and 50 are not interested in visiting the temple. During the hearings on the case in the Supreme Court, high-profile campaigns such as #ReadytoWait had been run by right wing groups, putting forward this contention.
Following the verdict on September 28, the BJP, which has a meager presence in the State, and organisations like the Nair Service Society were in the forefront of the campaign against the verdict, unleashing violence in the vicinity of the Sabarimala temple. The government indicated its intention to implement the verdict and the ruling Left Democratic Front and the CPI(M) held both door-to-door campaigns and massive rallies across the State, channelising the message of the Navodhanam (Kerala Renaissance) and interpreting the verdict in this light. These campaigns culminated in the historic Vanitha Mathil (Women’s Wall) which saw nearly 55 lakh women stand in unison across the length of the State in support of the verdict and the progressive values of the reform movements that constituted the Kerala Renaissance.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his recent visit to Kollam in Kerala, had termed the stance taken by the LDF (implementing the Supreme Court verdict) as “shameful.” The opposition Congress has also taken wildly contradictory stances. Even as its central leadership has made vague noises supporting the verdict, its State leadership has been aggressively attacking the government for implementing the SC order.
Today’s information makes it clear that despite all these campaigns, there has been a steady stream of women visiting the Sabarimala temple. During the Supreme Court hearing, the Kerala government stated that it was already providing security to all the women who had entered the temple. The SC bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the government to continue providing security to the petitioners.