A petition by four women, seeking police protection to enter Sabarimala temple, was turned down by the Kerala High Court on Monday after the state government repeated its assurance of providing "necessary assistance" to genuine devotees.
Massive protests by devotees and some priests has forced as many as nine women to turn back from various stages of their walk to the temple early this month, after the Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the shrine.
In their petition, filed ahead of next month's opening of the temple, the women -- two of them lawyers -- said they found it "unsafe" to travel to the hill shrine "in the present situation" and sought the police protection.
The state's Left-led government told the court that all necessary steps to maintain law and order will be taken at Sabarimala. All "genuine devotees" will be given "necessary assistance" for offering prayers before the deity with "sanctity and dignity."
The government contended that criminals in the garb of devotees were taking law into their hands.
Following the government's assurance, the High Court observed that the apprehensions expressed by the petitioners are "premature and irrational". Till yesterday, the state police arrested more than 3,500 people in connection with last month's protests.
The entry of women of all ages into the temple has snowballed into a political controversy.
On Saturday, BJP president Amit Shah had warned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan against "playing with the Sabarimala issue" and said the BJP would throw out the state government if it tried to tinker with issues of faith.
In his retort at a public meeting on Sunday night, Mr Vijayan launched an all-out attack at the BJP and its ideological mentor, the RSS and said despite trying "every trick", Amit Shah had not been able to get a "foothold for his party" in Kerala.
The BJP has one legislator in the 140-member state assembly.
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