Sabarimala protests: Detained religious leaders granted bail

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Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 17 (IANS) Religious leaders who were taken into preventive detention from the Sabarimala temple premises on Friday night were granted bail on Saturday.

The most prominent among the detained — Hindu Iykavedi (HI) President and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader K.P. Sasikala, who was produced before the sub-divisional magistrate at Thiruvalla on Saturday — said she will proceed to pray at the temple.

Following the detention, the Hindu group with the support of the state BJP called for a 12-hour shutdown in Kerala.

With Sasikala brought to the Ranni Police Station, more than a thousand of her supporters cordoned off the police station and chanted Lord Ayyappa hymns while conciliation talks were going on.

Sasikala was initially offered bail by the police which she refused and demanded to be produced before a magistrate. She also demanded that she be taken back to the place from where she was detained.

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Just before she was taken to the magistrate, she addressed her supporters: “It was because of your support that I am now out and after presenting myself before the magistrate I will go to Sabarimala temple and pray. I was taken into custody for no reason as I came to the temple to offer prayers as any devout pilgrim would do,” she said.

The police told the media that they have powers vested with them to take anyone into preventive custody if they feel it would help to defuse tense situations.

The temple town has witnessed protests by Hindu groups since the September 28 Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter the temple that hitherto banned girls and women aged between 10 and 50.

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–IANS

sg/mag/bg

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