Transgenders on way to Sabarimala sent back by police

Erumeli | A group of transgenders, who were on their way to offer prayers at Sabarimala temple, were stopped here, around 60 km from the shrine, and sent back by police on Sunday.

The transgenders alleged that the police harassed them and said they were not banned from darshan at the shrine, but the police said there was a need to get some legal clarity in this issue.

Ananya, Trupti, Renjumol and Avanthika were dressed in black sarees, the traditional pilgrim attire, and were carrying the customary ‘irumudikettu’ (sacred offerings to God). They said they reached here in the early hours but the police was reluctant to provide them security and permission to proceed further.

They alleged that the Erumeli Police even asked them to change into male attire for proceeding to the Lord Ayyappa temple. Ananya said they did not want to change the saree. “The ban on menstruating women is not applicable to us. Though we have told this to police, they were not ready to allow us to proceed further. They harassed us mentally and forced us to wear male dress,” Ananya said. The devotee also said they would approach the high court against the police’s move.

However, Kottayam Superintendent of Police S Harishankar rejected the charges of harassment and said everyone had the right to offer prayers at Sabarimala. “We need to get some more legal clarity in this regard. So, we will approach the high court-appointed panel and seek their advice,” he told reporters.

The state had witnessed massive protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees opposing the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the Sabarimala temple since the Kerala government decided to implement a Supreme Court order permitting women of all age groups into the shrine. Over a dozen women have so far made unsuccessful attempts to trek the holy hills due to furious protests by devotees and right wing groups.

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