- Sabarimala temple closes for devotees after puja today
- Media has been warned of 'targeted attacks', told to stay away
- More than a thousand men camping at Sabarimala, say temple authorities
Kerala's Sabarimala shrine looks set to close down in a few hours with its record intact of no woman below 50 being allowed in despite the Supreme Court ending the temple's ban on women of a menstrual age - 10 to 50 years.
On Monday, journalists who have been reporting from Pamba, one of the main access points to the hilltop shrine, were told by the police to leave the area as they had information about "targeted attacks on the media".
The shrine had opened on October 18, for the first time after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling. Defying the court order, hundreds of protesters did everything in their power to block women - undeterred by a huge police contingent in riot gear. In the last four days, nine women failed to make history as they were stopped by protesting devotees from going to the temple.
Yesterday, a 47-year-old woman who reached closest to the temple's main area suffered a panic attack at the entrance after protesters surrounded and heckled her.
The temple administration has written to the government that it will stop rituals if any "tradition" is broken. The administration claims it is concerned over more than 1,000 men camping inside the temple, who could take the law into their hands.
The BJP has denied allegations that it has sent its party workers to escalate the protests near the temple. The party is on the same side as the Congress on the subject; the Congress has asked the Centre to bring an ordinance or special order to override the Supreme Court's ruling. Both the parties have alleged that the CPI(M)-led government in Kerala is trying to destroy the sanctity of the shrine by not opposing the court order.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for the attack on women journalists last Wednesday at Sabarimala. In a blog on Facebook, he said, "Sabarimala has a uniqueness that other temples lack. It allows entry for people of all faith. Sangh Parivar and RSS have always been intolerant of this fact. They have made many attempts to erase this distinction of Sabarimala."
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