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A red faced Kerala government, after filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court last week that 51 women had entered the Sabarimala temple after the court allowed  entry of women in its verdict last September, now says only 17 have done so.

Revising the list submitted last week, it says 17 women between the ages of 10 and 50—hitherto barred—-entered the temple. It said thirty others were aged above 50 while admitting that the list also contained names of four men.  The list was vetted after the media took up the government’s claim and exposed them as a lie. Newspapers and TV channels contacted the individuals named using their aadhar and mobile details given in the affidavit to the SC.

The apex court is to hear 49 revision petitions challenging its September 29 verdict that allowed women of menstrual age to enter and pray at the temple. The hearing was originally scheduled for January 22 but has now been postponed as one of the judges is indisposed. The government had on Friday given a list of names along with their age and Aadhaar details was also submitted in the court.

The counsel for the state told the bench that till now 51 female devotees have entered the temple during the ongoing annual pilgrimage season and all of them are being provided adequate security. “In this regard it is submitted that a total of 7,564 women between the age of 10 and 50 years had registered for darshan and as per the digitally scanned records around 51 women in this group have already visited the shrine and had darshan without any issue,” the affidavit given to the court had stated.

It was for the first time that the state government has stated that 51 women in the previously barred age group have entered the temple.

The state had witnessed widespread violent protests for several days from January 2 after the LDF government confirmed that two women of menstrual age entered the shrine.

Meanwhile.,The three-member monitoring committee appointed by the high court in Sabarimala has given a report to the high court that at least one year would be required for setting by basic infrastructure in Sabarimala on account of the fact that more women are likely to go to Sabarimala following the Supreme Court order.

“Though young women reached Sabarimala before and after Mandalam season, they had to return in the face of protest. We can’t correctly say how many women have trekked the hillock. Basic facilities and additional police security will have to be provided to the women. Time is required to make permanent arrangements in Pamba and Nilakkal. The changes may also be required in the Sabarimala master plan prepared by the Centre and approved by the State government,” the report said.

–India Legal Bureau

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