THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Managing women pilgrims through the 18 holy steps at Sannidhanam in Sabarimala will be a herculean task as an assessment made by the Kerala Police points out if the flow of women pilgrims increases, crowd management at Sabarimala will go haywire.
According to the assessment which was discussed in detail at the high power committee meeting, regulating the flow of pilgrims through the 18 steps was the core factor in crowd management during the pilgrim season.
For proper crowd control, at least 75 pilgrims should pass through the holy steps per minute and the flow should be steady when the sanctum sanctorum is open to prevent long queues during the peak pilgrimage days. Usually, policemen are deployed in different shifts on either side of the holy steps to help the pilgrims ascend the steep steps.
“If more women pilgrims arrive, then the flow will become slow delaying the movement of the crowd,” a police officer told Express. “Above all, it will not be a viable option to deploy women police personnel on the side of the holy steps to physically guide the women pilgrims to help them ascend the steps.
A police officer told Express: “If male police personnel are deployed to guide women pilgrims, some women may raise objections to it. Another factor is women police personnel will not be able to exert the same physical effort taken by the policemen to regulate the movement of pilgrims.”
Thiruvananthapuram Range Inspector General Manoj Abraham said the department was taking stock of all possible options to ensure a smooth pilgrimage season this time. “We are also considering to implement a totally digital-driven darshan system with time slots for pilgrims. Soon, we will be working out a detailed crowd management plan specially to regulate the flow of women pilgrims,” he said.
Another worrying factor for the police is the deployment of a large number of women police personnel at Sannidhanam can only be done after ensuring proper facilities for them which include accommodation and mess.
“We will not be able to use women police personnel for the kind of tasks at Sannidhanam which usually require high physical activity. So, we will not be able to reduce the number of policemen also,” said another officer, adding managing women pilgrims at Sannidhanam will not be an easy task for the police.