Thiruvananthapuram | Kerala Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan on Wednesday said genuine devotees of Lord Ayyappa didn't need to remove the sacred chain during the recently concluded Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season due to their alleged inability to offer prayers at Sabarimala.
He made this statement during the Question and Answer session in the State Assembly.
The Minister charged that only those falsely claiming devotion had resorted to such actions.
Hailing the interventions made by the police in regulating the unprecedented heavy rush at the hill shrine during the season, the Minister said if such restrictions had not been put in place, more issues would have been created at Sannidhanam, the temple complex.
He was answering a question raised by Congress Legislator M Vincent alleging that the annual pilgrimage season was "miserable" for devotees this time and that "unnecessary" restrictions were imposed upon by them by the police and the authorities.
There was a situation where even devotees had to remove their sacred chains before the Pandalam Sree Dharmashastha temple as they failed to get darshan, the opposition MLA further charged.
As per customs, those who plan to visit Sabarimala wear a sacred chain and remove it after offering worship there.
"No genuine devotee was seen removing the sacred chain or breaking coconuts, anywhere. These actions were undertaken by fake devotees," Radhakrishnan said in his reply.
Detailing the steps taken by the police and the authorities to regulate the rush, he said initially 90,000 pilgrims were allowed to offer darshan through a virtual queue system and it was brought down to 80,000 later.
Besides this, spot booking was also there and the number of pilgrims who trekked to the Sannidhanam through various routes also caused an unprecedented heavy rush at the hill shrine.
"Police had to intervene to regulate such heavy rush situations. Otherwise, it would have created more difficulties," he said.
The Minister further said that false campaigns were unleashed during the recently concluded pilgrimage season (by vested interests) with a deliberate intention to create issues.
However, things changed after cases were registered and a thorough investigation was launched by the cyber wing, he added.