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Kerala Govt Faces Ire of BJP on Police Handbook Directive

The BJP claimed on Thursday that one of the guidelines in a police handbook circulated to on-duty staff at the Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala regarding the entry of devotees had a “malicious motive”, with the ruling LDF saying it will be revoked if there is any would be errors.

The handbook distributed by the Ministry of the Interior to police officers on duty at the shrine on the hill and its grounds says that all pilgrims are allowed to enter the temple as per the September 2018 Supreme Court ruling.

As the issue sparked a political controversy, Devaswom State Minister K Radhakrishnan clarified that it had been printed earlier and that the guidelines appearing in this year’s handbook were in error.

“The government has no bad motive in this matter. We did everything with good intentions. If there are shortcomings in the guidelines, directions will be given to withdraw them,” the minister told reporters in Sabarimala.

The controversial directive appears as the first of several given for police officers to follow while on duty at the Lord Ayyappa Temple.

Without commenting directly on the entry of women into Sabarimala and the unrest that followed, BJP head of state K Surendran said that if the left government had some intention behind its “entry for all pilgrims” guideline in the handbook, it would be better to put it in the button itself.

“If the decision (of the government) is to turn Sabarimala back into a war zone and target believers, we have not forgotten anything from the past. The government had gone back on those things before. If you come up with such moves again, it will have far-reaching consequences… that’s all we can say,” he told reporters.

The BJP leader also said it was better for the government to refrain from such moves.

The famous Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala opened here on Wednesday evening on the eve of the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season, which is expected to see a 40 to 50 percent increase in devotees this year in the absence of COVID-19 limits.

The temple witnessed a huge turnout of devotees this morning, braving heavy rains.

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