Protests at Sabarimala again, dozens in custody after midnight drama at the shrine

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Protests at Sabarimala again, dozens in custody after midnight drama at the shrine

Protesters refused to leave Sannidhanam even after police asked them to.

Fresh protests broke out at Sabarimala shrine where more than a hundred devotees agitated against police restrictions. The protest took place in Nadapanthal area of Sannidhanam late on Sunday.

The police have taken 28 people into preventive custody.

Due to previous incidents of violence at the hill-top shrine, the police had imposed strict restrictions on devotees at Sannidhanam. The devotees were not allowed to stay back during the night.

However, On the second day of the two-month-long pilgrimage season, devotees gathered at the covered pathway to the temple when they were asked to leave Sannidhanam.

"Section 144 had been declared in the area. We had asked them to disperse after the Harivarasanam but most of them refused," said Pratheesh Kumar, Superintendent of Police. Section 144 prohibits assembly of more than four people at a spot.

He said the police was not against devotees offering prayers.

"Those who have to offer 'neyyabhishekam' (anointing deity with ghee) can stay back. They can recite prayers also. We are not against it. The police will assist those who want to offer prayers," he said

The protesters were taken to Pamba police station which is 3.5 km downhill from the shrine.

Sources said that the police had received information about a possible protest by the devotees at Sannidhanam and the police had taken precautionary measures.

"We are devotees and we started reciting prayers but the police did not allow us, saying section 144 (prohibitory orders) has been imposed," said Rajesh, one of the protesters.

He said he did not mind getting arrested for reciting prayers at Sannidhanam.

(With PTI inputs)

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