Activist Rahul Easwar detained, journalists attacked as mobs guard shrine

Clay Curtis
October 17, 2018

An angry Goswami slammed the devotees of Lord Ayappa opposing the entry of women into the temple.

While most Hindu temples allow women to enter as long as they are not menstruating, the Sabarimala temple is unusual in that it is one of the few that does not allow women in a broad age group to enter at all.

Pilgrims arrive at Nilakcal, the base camp of Lord Ayyappa's shrine. At one point, she feared for her life. He is kept at Pamba police station.

As the protesters resorted to violence, Kerala Police baton chargeed them at Nilakkal.

In a similar manner, News 18 reporter Neethu Reghukumar was heckled by angry protesters on Tuesday night and the media organisation's vehicle was attacked after she questioned the Kerala government over its promise on the safety of women devotees. "A team of commandos will also be deployed soon", he said.

"We will not be deterred by the police high-handedness and will continue with the protests", he told Reuters.

Both the Congress - the main opposition party in Kerala - and the BJP, which is desperately seeking to expand its footprint in the state, have lent support to the agitation against the Supreme Court verdict. Even as cops at the spot looked on, more protesters joined in.

Hours ahead of the opening of the hill shrine for the monthly prayers, police said they would not let anyone block the movement of people.

A couple from Tamil Nadu, aged 45 and 40, on their way to Pamba, were forced to get off from the KSRTC bus Monday night allegedly by some activists of the Sabarimala Achara Samrakshana Samiti.

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Although the couple had said that they would go only up to Pamba and not climb Sabarimala, the activists prevented them. They alleged the police removed the members of the tantri and royal families without any provocation. The goons also vandalised the camera equipment that the crew was carrying. 1000 police officers were deployed in Pamba and Nilakkal.

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

BREAKING | Portals of Sabarimala Temple opened at 5 pm today.

"I say ego because no devotee who has faith in Sabarimala will try to break the 2,100-year-old rule".

Earlier, police chased away a group of protesters at Nilackal who were stopping and checking vehicles to see if they had any women in the 10-50 age group.

Police have registered cases against more than 50 people in connection with the incident.

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Protesting women had said no women belonging to the banned age group of 10-50 will be allowed to travel further from Nilackal and offer worship at the shrine.

The temple opened its gates on Wednesday for monthly pujas, which will end on 22 October.

Biju S. Pillai, a local man in his 30s, was one of those opposed to the court ruling, telling AFP that he returned from working in Dubai to "protect the sanctity of the temple" with his mother and young son.

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