The Hindu Aikya Vedi is up in arms against the e-queue booking system for Sabarimala darsan, saying it generates inequality.
Kummanam Rajasekharan, the Hindu Aikya Vedi State general secretary said while the elite middleclass with Internet access could enjoy the facility, 99 per cent of devotees – who mostly belong to the economically backward class from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and other states – have to stand in queue for as much as 15 hours for darsan.
“By introducing a new queue system for a particular group of devotees, equality among Ayyappa devotees has been dented. About 99 per cent of the devotees come from villages and do not have access to computer or Internet. Any new system or service should cater to the maximum number of people,” he said.
There were also practical difficulties, he added. “Most of the special trains run late by many hours. It will be difficult for a devotee, registered online, to reach the shrine on the allotted time. Authorities claim the facility has been introduced to control the crowd. But, what is needed in Sabarimala is not ‘crowd control’, but crowd management. Devotees should be allowed to spend more time at the hill to peacefully pray to Lord Ayyappa,” added Rajasekharan. He also said the state government had failed to arrange bare minimum facilities like drinking water, shelter during rain, quality food, etc. Devotees find it difficult to get adequate information and assistance. “More than 100 people were killed in last year’s stampede due to poor crowd management, but the authorities are yet to learn from the tragedy,” he said.