Pathanamthitta: The Pathanamthitta district collector PB Nooh on Thursday extended prohibitory orders in Sabarimala, Nilakkal, Pamba areas for four more days until November 26.

Section 144 was imposed at Sabarimala and its base camps on November 15, before the temple had opened for its two-month festival. The police had asked that Section 144 banning the assembly of four or more people be implemented until January 14.

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However, the orders do not apply to devotees chanting mantras individually or in groups. The Kerala high court on Thursday had said that pilgrims could not be stopped from moving in groups or chanting and singing songs near the temple. While hearing pleas against the imposition of prohibitory orders, the high court had said police could only act against those breaching the peace.

The hill shrine opened on November 16 for the third time after the Supreme Court verdict in September overturned the ban on entry of women of menstruating age into the temple. So far, protesting devotees have not allowed women between the ages of 10 and 50 to enter the shrine.

Earlier, Kerala high court had questioned the state government as to why top police officers, accused in criminal cases, have been deployed in Sabarimala. Referring to inspector general (IG) Vijay Sakhare and  superintendent of police (SP) Yatheesh Chandra, the court observed, “What was the point of deploying police officers, who do not know how to read and write Malayalam.”

BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai filed a complaint with the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions that superintendent of police Yatheesh Chandra misbehaved with central leader Pon Radhakrishnan during the visit to Sabarimala. 

BJP leader K Surendran too was arrested recently for violating prohibitory orders. While he has been granted bail, a fresh case has been registered by the police. Hindu Aikya Vedi chief Sasikala too was arrested and later let off on bail.