Sabarimala: Transgender group stopped from entry

India

16 Dec 2018

Sabarimala: Four transgender persons denied entry, allegedly abused by cops

In the wee hours of Sunday, four transgender persons trying to gain entry to the Sabarimala temple were blocked by the Kerala police.

Reportedly, the four were also threatened with imprisonment when they stressed that there was no ban on transgender people entering the shrine.

They were also allgedly abused and detained for four hours.

Here are the details.

Details

The group was stopped at the Erumeli police station

The group was stopped at the Erumeli police station

The four transwomen - Ananya, Triputhi, Avantika and Ranjumol - reportedly hail from Kottayam and Ernakulam.

They had made an attempt to climb the hill at around 1.30am on Sunday, and had observed all religious formalities, including maintaining a fast and carrying the irumudikettu (bag of holy offerings Ayyappa devotees carry).

However, they were stopped at the Erumeli police station.

Video

One of them uploaded a video about their harrowing experience

Subsequently, Ananya, who led the group, posted a live video on Facebook at around 6.30am on Sunday, highlighting their plight.

In the video, she repeatedly emphasizes that there was no previous ban on the entry of transgender persons to the Sabarimala temple, and such devotees were allowed to enter after some checking by the police.

Then, she narrated their harrowing experience.

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Ananya explains why they had approached the police first

"Before, if a transgender person went to Sabarimala and they looked like a woman at that time, they would have to conduct some verification, and police assistance is required for that. That is why we went to the police. Otherwise they don't ask us anything," said Ananya.

Abuse

The group was allegedly abused by cops for being transgender

The group was allegedly abused by cops for being transgender

Ananya said that police had been aware of their pilgrimage to Sabarimala, as they had communicated their desire to visit the shrine to the Erumeli and Nilakkal police stations.

Yet, when they approached the hill, they were detained for hours at the Erumeli police station, before being sent back.

During their time at the station, they were verbally abused by cops for being transgender.

Ananya recalls the group's harrowing experience

"They even threatened to send us into jail and said jail was where we really belonged. They asked us are you male or female, we said neither, we are transgender people. They said 'what transgender people?'. They also took aside the driver...and threatened him," Ananya alleged.

Other details

Police had allegedly offered to escort them, under certain conditions

Threats apart, the police also questioned the group about their choice of clothing, and made derogatory comments about the same.

Further, Ananya alleged that police had offered to escort them to the temple if they changed into men's clothes, but turned down the offer rather sadistically when they agreed to change clothes.

Subsequently, they were sent back to Kottayam.

No entry

Not a single woman has made it to Sabarimala yet

Not a single woman has made it to Sabarimala yet

This incident is the latest in the series of untoward incidents taking place at the Sabarimala temple.

Since the SC's verdict on September 28, not a single woman has made it to the shrine in the multiple times the temple has been opened - they have either been blocked by protesting Ayyappa devotees, or have been blocked by the police for their security.

Situation

A brief roundup of the tense situation in Kerala

Since the SC's verdict allowing entry of women aged 10-50 years, violent protests have rocked Kerala wherein lakhs of Ayyappa devotees, egged on by political parties, have protested the verdict.

Recently, an Ayyappa devotee self-immolated in protest, further increasing tensions, while BJP leaders remain on an indefinite fast.

The SC hearing on review petitions challenging the verdict is slated for January 22.

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