Women targeted by Sabarimala protesters

Sabarimala, Publish Date: Nov 6 2018

Sabarimala protesters on Tuesday raged, intimidated and sent back at least one woman from the age group of 10-50 years as they refused to break with tradition.

After the Lord Ayyappa temple opened on Monday at 5 p.m. for the special one-day session amid tight security, there were violent protests by devotees late in the night and early on Tuesday as they found out women from the hitherto banned age group approaching the shrine.

Two women on Tuesday were apprehended on their way through Pamba and threatened after devotees found out they were without the holy kit (Irumudi Kettu).

Shouting Ayyappa slogans the protesters stopped them from advancing any further. This was despite the fact that they were above 50 years, the police said.

It was not until their leaders announced on microphones that the protests ended. Later the women were helped to complete their darshan and perform puja at the hilltop temple.

The first protests were witnessed late on Monday, when a 30-year-old woman along with her husband and children was stopped. Following the violent outbursts, the woman retreated.

She was sent back home along with her family early on Tuesday under police security.

Although Kerala Police has literally taken over Sabarimala posting a dozen women officials over 50 years of age near the shrine, there has not been any woman devotee inside the sanctum sanctorum from the hitherto banned age group despite the Pinarayi Vijayan government promising to carry out the September 28 Supreme Court verdict.

The temple will shut its gates at 10 p.m.

According to figures more than 10,000 pilgrims had taken the pathway to the temple hilltop, compared with less than 1,000 devotees the same day last year.

The temple had witnessed massive protests between October 17 and 22, after it opened for the first time following the apex court’s ruling allowing the hitherto banned age group of girls and women to enter the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

The temple town is witnessing one of its most stringent security arrangements. There were more than 2,300 police officials posted at various points up the pilgrimage path after the state took over the shrine’s security on Saturday.

Several metal detectors have been kept at a various points and crowd combating arrangements are also in place.

The Kerala government has announced it would implement the apex court’s ruling, pitting it against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and numerous Hindu groups which have been up in arms against the verdict. ( IANS )