Sabarimala temple opening: Heavy security deployed along the route up to Sabarimala shrine.
The Sabarimala temple opened it to devotees today, after a day of protests against the entry of women into the Lord Ayappa temple. The protests turned violent, with several protesters clashing with the police near the hilltop temple. Despite heavy police security, women journalists were beaten and their crew attacked. Kerala Left-led government has called these attacks politically motivated violence.
Last month, a historic Supreme Court ruling lifted the ban on the entry of women between the age of 10 and 50 years. The trek leading up to the shrine has been opened to everyone. Four journalists from different media organisations were attacked, beaten up with sticks by angry protesters near the Nillakal base camp, some 20 kilometers away from the main shrine. Two women attempted the trek but were blocked by protesters. A 40-year-old woman and her family were heckled and intimidated as they walked towards the Sabarimala temple. Ten minutes into their trek, the family had to abandon their plans of praying to Lord Ayyappa inside Sabarimala.
Several devotees, mostly women, stopped and checked buses, cars and pulled out women asking them to go back yesterday. Kerala police has however ordered that anyone trying to obstruct entry will amount to criminal conspiracy and that heavy security will be deployed as the situations intensifies. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had, in a press meet yesterday, said that government will not submit a review petition and that they will ensure facilities to allow all devotees to go to Sabarimala shrine today.
Here are the live updates of Sabarimala temple opening:
Sabarimala Protection Committee has called for a 12-hour statewide strike tomorrow in Kerala: news agency ANI
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury on violence near Sabarimala Temple
"The way women journalists were manhandled by so-called devotees is unacceptable. Who are those attacking others and not allowing implementation of Supreme Court order? Contempt of court is a crime. They should be punished"
Devotees climb the sacred Pathinettam Padi to enter the Sabarimala Temple to offer prayers
Union Home Ministry has taken cognisance of the incidents of violence that took place near Sabarimala temple in Kerala today, reports news agency ANI quoting sources
Prohibitory orders have been imposed in 4 places in Kerala; Pampa, Nilakkal, Sannidhanam and Elavungal
Kerala Minister EP Jayarajan on violent protests near Sabarimala
"RSS criminals hid in forests and attacked the Ayappa devotees. 10 media personnel, 5 devotees and 15 policemen were attacked"
"KSRTC buses were damaged. Devotees from other states were beaten up & sent back. RSS-BJP is behind all of this. Supreme Court rule applies to all, the government is just following and implementing it"
Devotees at Sabarimala Temple can offer prayers till 10.30 pm today
Both the Congress, the main opposition party in Kerala, and the BJP, which is seeking to expand its footprint in the state, have lent support to the agitation against entry of women to the Sabarimala temple
- A group of BJP leaders held 'namajapa' (prayer) meeting at Pamba. BJP state general secretaries, K Surendran, MT Ramesh and Shobha Surendran were among those present
- State Congress working president K Sudhakaran led his party workers in a protest at Nilackal to express solidarity with Ayyappa devotees
700 armed police personnel deployed at Pamba, Nilackal base camps of Sabarimala
"At least 700 armed police personnel, 100 of them women, are already placed in various locations. A team of commandos will also be deployed soon," DGP Lonknath Behera said.
Congress leader and Kerala Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala on protests near Sabarimala
"Congress is not attacking anybody and definitely attack on journalists is not tolerable. Those who are protesting there, are BJP and RSS people. Nowhere Congress people are engaged in this kind of hooliganism or vandalism"
Union Minister Ramdas Athawale on violence near Sabarimala Temple
"Everyone should respect the decision of supreme court. No one should protest against the decision of court. No one is above the law"
Woman, Family Abandon Sabarimala Trek Out Of Fear, Say No Cops At Temple
A 40-year-old woman and her family were heckled and intimidated on Wednesday as they walked towards the Sabarimala temple, which opens this evening for the first time since the Supreme Court overturned a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age -- 10 to 50 years -- entering the shrine. Madhavi, who is from Andhra Pradesh, began the climb to the hilltop shrine after reaching the base, Pamba, along with her children and parents. She had braved every obstacle in her way, with the police walking alongside
Network of Women in Media, India issues a statement on attack on journalists near Sabarimala
"The Network of Women in Media, India vehemently denounces attacks on journalists, including several women journalists, at Nilakkal/Sabarimala. We demand that Chief Minister and government of Kerala take immediate action against agitators who let violent assailants loose on journalists"
"It is incumbent on the government to create a secure environment for journalists to report from Pamba and nearby areas on an issue that is of interest and concern to public. Government must immediately ensure safety of journalists and assure media that lives of reporters are not in danger"
BJP leader MS Kumar on incidents of violence near Sabarimala
"Kerala government is fully responsible for any and order situation in state. It's a very unfortunate situation, we aren't responsible. No BJP worker is involved, we're condemning that attempt"
Police lathicharge stone-throwing protesters at Nillakal base camp, some 20 kilometers away from Sabarimala shrine
- Activist Rahul Easwar has been arrested from Nilakkal base camp and a non-bailable FIR has been registered against him
- He is kept at Pamba police station
- "I didn't hit any woman there. I was moving to the other direction. It's a vendetta against me," Rahul Easwar tells news agency ANI
Kerala Minister KK Shailaja On Protests near Sabarimala Temple
"I can predict what is going on there, I think it is intentional, it's dirty politics they (protesters) are playing. We can't say if they are actual devotees. Supreme Court's order is constitutional and government is bound to implement it"
National Commission For Women has taken cognisance of the attack on women journalists near Sabarimala, news agency ANI reports.
A meeting is underway at NCW office for further steps to be taken
Activist Rahul Easwar, a prominent face of the campaign that challenged the entry of women into Sabarimala was detained today by Kerala Police.
NDTV crew attacked on camera by Sabarimala protesters
- When police was taking cover from the protesters, NDTV reporter Sneha Mary Koshy and camera person SP Babu tried to film the incident and were attacked by angry protesters.
- NDTV Camera person SP Babu's camera was held up and the protesters did not let it go.
- NDTV was stopped from covering the protests midway during live telecast -- reporter Sneha Mary Koshy and cameraperson SP Babu were heckled and asked to leave. Their camera was snatched.
Tension prevails at Pamba for after police tried to disperse the protesters who had gathered in large numbers.
Meanwhile, members of tantri (head priest) family and the Pandalam royal family took part in the namajapa (prayer) strike of devotees at Pamba.
Devotees including women sat by the roadside and chanted aloud mantras of Lord Ayyappa, even as armed police personnel were deployed in large numbers at the base camp, reports Press Trust of India.
Policemen control members of Hindu groups at the Nilakkal Base Camp, to prevent them from clashing with women entering Sabarimala temple for the first time in centuries, in Pathanamthitta. (Reuters)
Over 50 people including former Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan taken into custody in Nilakkal and Pamba, both Sabarimala base camps for protesting against entry of women into the Lord Ayyappa shrine: News agency ANI
2 Women Forced To Turn Back At Sabrimala, Shrine Opens At 5 pm
Two women, one from Kerala and another from Andhra Pradesh, were among the first women to begin their trek to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala on its opening day, but they were stopped by protesters on their way. They managed to walk only a few hundred metres from the base camp of the hilltop temple.
Mob attack on journalists
A mob of 100 smash car, attack news channel Republic TV's South India bureau chief, Pooja Prasanna, says the news channel.
News website, News Minute reporter attacked by mob of anti-women Sabarimala protesters.
The trek to the Sabarimla has been opened. Several devotees, mostly men have began the trek from Pamba base camp. Only two women have attempted to go on the trek. The trek by Journalist Libi CS was blocked by protesters.
A woman, Madhavi from Andhra Pradesh had to return mid-way after she was intimidated by protesters. She alleged that police personal accompanied her only for a few meters.
Police detain people protesting against the entry of women at Pamba, one of the Sabarimala temple base, where woman of all age groups are trying to reach the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
Women trying to reach Sabarimala shrine face angry protesters
Two women try to enter the premises of Sabarimala shrine. The first one to try entry is Journalist Libi CS, faced angry opposition. She reached the furthest any woman has reached. She has declared in a Facebook post that would trek to Sabarimala. She said she decided to visit the shrine.
The second woman, Madhavi, 40, from Andhra Pradesh began her trek to Sabarimla shrine, 200 metres after she began, she was stopped by devotees, police gave her protection, but Madhavi alleged that police did not give the protection all the way. She was told to proceed by herself after a few meters. Protesters then got to her again and blocked her entry. She had left the spot after that.
Inspector General of Police Manoj Abraham, who is in charge of security, told the media at Nilakkal that the police is fully geared to face any eventualities.
"By now itself we have registered three cases and seven people have been arrested. We are unable to say if there would be any issues... None will be stopped anywhere and those who want to come can come," Mr Abraham was quoted by news agency IANS as saying.
Tribals living in the hills around Sabarimala alleged that the government and the Travancore Devaswom Board were trying to demolish centuries-old customs by allowing entry of women in the 10-50 age group into the Sabarimala temple.
"The Devaswom Board has even taken control of tribal Gods and devasthanams in various hills around Sabarimala," 70-year-old VK Narayanan, chief of the forest-dwellers in the Attathodu area was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying.
Pilgrims start arriving at Nilakkal, the base camp of Sabarimala Temple ahead of its opening later today: News agency ANI
Protesters arrested, tight police security at Sabarimala base
7 protesters were arrested for creating ruckus. Police said that every devotee will have straight passage to Sabarimala. Protesters will not be allowed to gather at the base, police added.
The police, deployed in large numbers in Nilackal, some 20 kms away from the the Sabarimala shrine, removed a makeshift shelter set-up by a protesting group Sabarimala Achara Samrakshana Samiti, reports Press Trust of India.
The protesting group of devotees had been staging a sit-in chanting Ayyappa mantra in the shelter in protest against the Supreme Court order permitting women of all age groups to enter the shrine.
The protesting people, who were less in numbers, ran from the spot when the police initiated action in early this morning when they tried to block the buses from the key entry point to the temple, says PTI.
Petitioner Rahul Eswar on Entry of women into the Sabarimala shrine
- We want to adopt a Gandhian protest where thousands of people will be laying down on the road. If people want to intrude in our belief, they should do so by stepping on our chests. This is a cry and plea for respecting our sensitivities.
- Our mothers, grandmothers and sisters are all protesting, praying and fasting across 12 states.
- We ask for 5 days as we are to go to the Supreme Court on 22nd of the month. We are going to guard our shrine.
As hundreds of additional police have been put on high alert across the state, police spokesperson Pramod Kumar told AFP that, "Things are under control, and we are closely monitoring the situation".
Devotees of Lord Ayyappa who have gathered at Nilakkal, the base camp of Sabarimala Temple say, "We are facing problems as administration is not giving clear answers on when doors will open.": News agency ANI.
A Total of 1000 security personnel, 800 men and 200 women, deployed at Nilakkal and Pamba base, reports news agency ANI. 500 security personnel deployed at Sannidhanam. Protesters have been cleared and have been ordered not to be allowed to gather at any base camps or stop vehicles.
What we know:
- Hundreds of extra police were on high alert on Wednesday ahead of the scheduled opening of the Sabarimala shrine.
- Tribals continue to stand along the route to the temple so as to prevent entry of women
- Devotees had yesterday checked cars and buses along the route and at Nilackal, the base camp below the site, preventing women from proceeding
- Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said no one would be allowed to block devotees from proceeding to Sabarimala and that "Stern action will be taken against anyone who prevents devotees from going to Sabarimala".
- The temple opening is scheduled for 5 pm this evening
Stage set for Sabarimla temple opening
The Sabarimala shrine will at 5 pm this evening, open its doors to women of all age groups today for the first time after a Supreme Court ruling that allowed entry last month. Heavy police security has been deployed along the route up to the shrine. The trek to the Lord Ayyappa Shrine to begin at 3 pm and the entry to the doors of the temple at 5 pm.
Reactions to the Sabarimala verdict
Deepa Rahul Easwar, Activist
"It is not easy to fight the voices and belief of the masses. This verdict by the Supreme Court is by far the most insensitive verdict that has come out."
Shaina NC, Spokesperson BJP
"If women want to worship Lord Ayyappa, there are other temples that have no conditions, where they can go to worship."
Kerala has been witnessing a series of protests by the state units of Congress and the BJP as well as Hindu outfits against the verdict and the Left-led government's "hasty" move to implement the order. Some of the groups have demanded that the Kerala government come out with an ordinance to stop the entry of women to the shrine.
The Kerala state government, led by the Communist Party of India, has said it will not give in to attempts by Hindu groups to prevent women from entering that temple. "We will not allow anyone to take law and order into their hands," Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters.
A release by his office said the government would deploy sufficient police, including female officers, to uphold the Supreme Court's decision.
After the top court verdict had opened Sabarimala to women, many had strongly opposed it. Addressing the protesters in Kollam on Friday, Malayalam actor Kollam Thulash had allegedly said, "Women in the restricted age group who visit the Lord Ayappa Temple should be ripped apart."
Congress-led UDF members stage a protest against Supreme Court's Sabarimala verdict, at Erumely in Kottayam
The temple nestled in the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats opens tomorrow for the first time since the top court verdict. The doors will be closed on October 22 after the five-day monthly puja during the Malayalam month of Thulam.
Lok Sabha lawmaker Anto Antony, who represents Pathanamthitta constituency under which the
Sabarimala hill shrine comes, urged the Centre to issue an ordinance to get around the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women in all age groups in the holy temple.
Local television channels reported that some college students and even women reporters were stopped at the base camp. The police are trying to maintain peace in the holy region. A 32-year-old woman from Kannur claimed she was shamed and abused on social media after she announced her decision to offer prayers at the shrine.
Protesters Check Vehicles For Women Day Before Sabarimala Temple Opening. Read here
A woman attempted to hang herself from a tree in Thiruvananthapuram in protest against the Supreme Court's verdict over the entry of women of all age group in Sabarimala Temple. She was saved by the locals
BJP's state president PS Sreedharan Pillai had warned of a bigger agitation if the government failed to resolve the issue in the next 24 hours.
"We will meet each villager in Kerala and chalk out a massive agitation plan to protect the Sabarimala Temple, its centuries-old traditions and the sentiments of Lord Ayyappa devotees," Mr Pillai said.
Devotees block cars and buses to check for women travelling to Sabarimala. Few women were also asked to get off the bus and go back near Nilakkal in Sabarimala ahead of it's scheduled opening for women of all ages for the first time tomorrow.
Kerala Chief Minister on Sabarimala opening tomorrow:
- "We will not allow any one to take law and order in their hands. The government will ensure facilities to devotees to go to Sabarimala Temple and offer prayers. Government will not submit a review petition. We've said in court that we'll implement the order," says news agency ANI quoting Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
- The Chief Minister also said that the government will not allow any violence in the name of Sabarimala
- The government will not stop to check cars or stop people and that it will ensure the safety and the security of all devotees.
Pilgrims arrive at the Shabarimala temple's Pampa river ahead of it's scheduled opening tomorrow. The temple, for the first time, will allow the entry of women of all age groups into the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan calls for a press briefing shortly.
The opposition Congress, BJP and various Hindu outfits have launched protests, demanding that the state government to file a review petition against the September 28 top court order.
Four review petitions have been filed against the Sabarimala judgement, but the Supreme Court had said there will be no urgent hearing. "It will be listed in due course," a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said.
Devotees, mostly women, take part in the 'namajapa' (chanting the name of Lord Ayyappa) march against the Supreme Court verdict on the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple, in Ernakulam on Saturday
The Lord Ayyappa temple has traditionally barred all women of menstruating age. The temple's rule followed the belief that menstruating women are "impure".
The custom in the temple was challenged by a clutch of petitioners who argued that women cannot be denied the constitutional right to worship.
Heavy security has been deployed for the opening. So far, no special arrangements have been made for women devotees, the board's president A Padmakumar said.
The state has been witnessing a series of protests by the state units of Congress and the BJP as well as Hindu outfits against the verdict and the Left-led government's "hasty" move to implement the order. Some of the groups have demanded that the Kerala government come out with an ordinance to stop the entry of women to the shrine.
The Travancore Devaswom Board, which runs the hill-shrine, will meet the patrons, including the Tantri (head priest) family, Pandalam royals and Ayyappa Seva Sangam later in the day to discuss the preparations ahead of the three-month-long annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season starting November 17.
After weeks of protests, a massive protest march reached the state capital's secretariat yesterday with BJP party workers and Lord Ayyappa devotees joining the 'Save Sabarimla' campaign.