11-year-old girl prevented entry at Sabarimala, distraught father lashes out at cops

The Kerala police prevented a girl child from visiting Sabarimala, on the grounds that her Aadhaar card showed her to be 11 years of age. In the visuals that emerged on Tuesday, the angry father of the child could be seen arguing with the Pamba police asking them, “We have come to see the swami...even a small child won’t be allowed?”

The child and her father from Puducherry had booked online slots for Virtual Q that gives devotees quicker access to the Sannidhanam. Reports suggest that the girl child was registered as 9 years old in the Virtual Q portal. The Pamba police conduct security screening at the check post in the base of the Sabarimala hill where details of children making the climb to the Sannidhanam are noted and they are made to wear a yellow wristband.

The girl was stopped at this check post when police officers did the security screening. In the videos that has emerged after the child was detained, a lady police officer tells the father, “She is born in 2008. You can go, she can be with us, she will be safe with us,” to which the father replies saying, “How can I leave her and go? Should I call the swami here?”

The father was later seen angrily removing her Irumudi-Kettu. It is a bag containing a coconut filled with ghee, puja materials, rice and banana that devotees carry on their heads while making the climb. "There is no reason to see the swami.. don’t need the swami.” The child is moved to tears and the father went on saying, “It's a lie, the government is also a lie and even you (the police officer) are a lie and am a lie, is the swami a lie? If this is the swami’s temple then why this issue?” After the family was pacified by the police, the father and rest of the family went to the temple, leaving the girl under police protection.

The Kerala Police have been actively checking the age of females to prevent them those between 10 and 50 from visiting the Sabarimala temple. This is despite no stay from the Supreme Court on their 2018 order lifting the ban on women’s entry to the shrine. The Supreme Court last week had referred the Sabarimala issue to a 7-judge bench. The Kerala government, in order to prevent protests, has stated that they would give police protection to women devotees within the banned age group only if they have a Supreme Court order granting them police protection.

The Virtual Q pass is issued by the  Kerala Police and the Travancore Dewaswaom Board (TDB). "To avail these services, the devotees have to register themselves at the online portal, sabarimalaonline.org, by furnishing personal information which includes their name, age address, contact number, e-mail id, photograph, details of a photo identity card” states the Kerala police website.