Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Temple opens amid violent protests; Section 144 to be imposed

Temple opens amid violent protests; Section 144 to be imposed

The women devotees were blocked even after the police assured that no one will be prevented from taking part in the pilgrimage.

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.

Wednesday, is crucial for the Kerala government as it pitches to implement the September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowing all women irrespective of their ages to pray at Sabarimala. Easwar hails from the tantri's (head priest) family.

However, within a few hours, a large mob of protesters, in the guise of agitating peacefully, was allowed to assemble at Nilakkal.

Minister KK Shylaja urged protesters not to turn Sabarimala into a conflict-zone.

But later police struggled to control the situation, fighting running battles that left five devotees and 15 policemen injured, according to EP Jayarajan, a minister in the Kerala government. Protestors pelted stones at the vehicles of media personnel, who were on their way to report the matter. "If any change is made they will have to kill us and go over our bodies".

She was provided security by the police to climb the hills but was forced to return after protests. Three female police personnel were stopped by Easwar and his supporters at Pamba.

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On Tuesday, hours before the temple opens, agitators stopped and checked vehicles, including state-run buses, at Nilackal and forcibly turned back girls and women of this age group. A 100-strong mob attacked a woman who was trying to enter the temple at Nilakkal enroute Sabarimala. Online publication The News Minute said its reporter was kicked in the spine. The protesters, all male, responded by throwing stones at the police as well.

Special security arrangements and patrolling have been put in place in various locations including Pamba, Nilakkal, Erumeli, Vandiperiyar en route to the Sabarimala temple, located in the central district of Pathanamthitta.

"I say ego because no devotee who has faith in Sabarimala will try to break the 2,100-year-old rule". He is kept at Pamba police station.

Behera also said anyone who blocks vehicles in the name of hartal would be severely dealt with. "Moreover, there are other Ayyappa temples women can visit", the Times of India quoted him as saying.

However, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala denied that his party was involved in violence over the Sabarimala issue. But the protesters bullied and attacked some devotees and journalists elsewhere. "The BJP-RSS are trying to create tension and destroy the peaceful atmosphere in Kerala for political gain". A section of devotees have been protesting the ruling.

The Sabarimala temple doors would be closed on October 22 after the five-day monthly prayer during the Malayalam month of Thulam. The portals will reopen for devotees at 5 am on Thursday, after closing at 10.30 pm on Wednesday.

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