Sabarimala row: Angry protesters attack 4 women journalists, vehicle smashed

  • Sabarimala row: Angry protesters attack 4 women journalists, vehicle smashed

Sabarimala row: Angry protesters attack 4 women journalists, vehicle smashed

Hinduism regards menstruating women as unclean and bars them from participating in religious rituals.

Last month India's Supreme Court overturned a ban on females aged between 10 and 50 entering and praying at the hilltop Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in the southern state of Kerala. All of this had been taking place in front of the police, eyewitnesses said.

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. On Tuesday, he met the Pandalam royal family, representatives of the Sabarimala Tantri family and other Hindu organisations to see how best the controversy can be resolved but the deadlock continued.

However, within a few hours, a large mob of protesters, in the guise of agitating peacefully, was allowed to assemble at Nilakkal. "This is not acceptable", said state BJP general secretary K Surendran as he squatted at the site with his supporters. National TV showed protesters wearing black and saffron turbans running after their cars, violently pounding and kicking the vehicles in a bid to stop them from proceeding to Pamba from Nilakkal on the way to Sabarimala. The police initiated action when protesters tried to block the buses from the key entry point to the temple.

Another woman devotee, Liby, who got down at the Pathanamthitta bus stand and was to board a bus to Nilackal, faced angry devotees who booed her. Then, the Kerala Police gave her protection. They went after her.

One devotee who was walking to the temple with her son and daughter was forced to turn back by hecklers, despite a heavy police presence.

"I don't know why the police also resorted to stone-pelting". Over 1000 additional police personnel are positioned in Pamba and Nilakkal, he said.

Some women journalists faced the ire of a section of protesters agitating against the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women of all age into the Sabariamala temple and their vehicles attacked in Nilackal.

Right wing outfit, "Antharashtriya Hindu Parishad" led by Pravin Togadia and the "Sabarimala Samrakshana Samithi", an outfit of devotees, called for a 24-hour strike, starting from midnight. Pathnamthitta district police SP said that they will not allow any protests at Nilakkal.

Pilgrims have started arriving at Nilakkal. Police said that every devotee will have straight passage to Sabarimala. He is kept at Pamba police station. Women officers were also deployed in Nilakkal. This is the first time that the temple would be opening after the apex court's verdict.

A number of temples in India have banned women, saying the policy is meant to preserve the purity of their shrines.

Meanwhile, state opposition leader from the Congress party, which also staged a protest at the base camp in Nilakkal, Pathanamthitta, said that this was a question of faith and that can not be questioned.