Women journalists blocked, cars attacked near Sabarimala

17 October, 2018, 19:02 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Mob attempts to block first entry of women of menstruating age to sacred Hindu temple

Apologising for the attack on journalists, Rahul Easwar said, "I didn't hit any woman". All of this had been taking place in front of the police, eyewitnesses said. They added that it was prejudiced against women and their right to worship.

A woman from Andhra Pradesh, in the below 50 year age group, who tried to climb the Sabarimala Hills to reach the Lord Ayyappa temple, returned to Pamba following protests by male devotees.

"How can the police arrest a very elderly lady of the Tantri family? This has not happened in the history of Sabarimala, they are turning it into a battlefield", K Surendran said.

Around 500 police personnel, including women, have been deployed in Nilackal to ensure a safe passage to the pilgrims to the Lord Ayyappa temple.

"Things are under control, and we are closely monitoring the situation", Kerala police spokesperson Pramod Kumar told AFP on Tuesday.

The journalists were forced to get out of the vehicles by the crowd of men.

This is for the first time that the hill temple, located in the evergreen forests of Western Ghats, opened after the apex court lifted the ban on menstrual age women visiting the shrine.

Earlier in the day, journalists were manhandled and women journalists were heckled, their vehicles smashed by protesters who besieged the road leading to the temple. They went after her.

Police protection has been extended to few women pilgrims -a woman pilgrim was blocked by local people-who have started arriving in Pathanamthitta. Online publication The News Minute said its reporter was kicked in the spine.

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In view of the situation, the police made a decision to impose Section 144 in four areas: Nilakkal, Pamba, Elavunkal and Sannidhanam.

Hundreds of policemen could be seen in Pamba, Nilakkal and Erumeli - the important landmarks on way to Sabarimala.

Kalyani Jacob, a student and devotee of Lord Ayappa in New Delhi, said: "We don't mind not being allowed in".

The woman was later escorted out to the bus station by the police.

"As the Supreme Court has passed a verdict, what can the board do?"

Several temples across India have banned women, saying the policy is meant to preserve the purity of their shrines. The Sangh Parivar organisations, along with Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress, are also protesting on the two sites.

However, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala denied that his party was involved in violence over the Sabarimala issue. Those who are protesting there, are BJP and RSS people. "Stern action will be taken against anyone who prevents devotees from going to Sabarimala", he warned while asserting that the government will go by what the Supreme Court says.

The temple opened its gates on Wednesday for monthly pujas, which will end on 22 October. The portals will reopen for devotees at 5 am on Thursday, after closing at 10.30 pm on Wednesday.

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