Sabarimala temple opening: The hilltop shrine was open to devotees yesterday evening.
The Sabarimala temple was re-opened to devotees late last evening in the midst of continuing protests in and around the hilltop shrine. Today, a group in Kerala has called for a state-wide shutdown over the arrest of Hindu Aikya Vedi KP Sasikala, amid protests over allowing women of menstruating age to enter the Sabarimala temple nestled in the Western Ghats. The shrine is set to be open for a two-month pilgrimage. Some 500 women have registered themselves to visit the shrine to Lord Ayyappa, after the Supreme Court in September overturned a decades-old ban on entry of women between 10 and 50 years. Several women who had trekked to the temple had been turned back by protesters in previous attempts. On Friday, activist Trupti Desai had to spend an entire day at Kochi airport after she was surrounded by protesters determined to stop her from going to Sabarimala.
Here are the live updates on the Sabarimala temple opening:
Standoff between BJP and Police at Nilakkal base camp
Police block BJP General Secretary K Surendran at Nilakkal base camp. Police prohibit them from going towards Sabarimala temple.
KP Sasikala, the state president of Hindu Aikya Vedi, who was arrested past midnight on suspicion of creating law and order problem is out of police custody. She has been served show cause notice by the court.
Late last night, Aikya Vedi state president, KP Sasikala, who was on a pilgrimage to the Ayyappa shrine, was taken into "preventive custody" near Marakkootam, close to Sabarimala, at 2.30 am after she allegedly defied the orders, police said.
Police had decided not to allow devotees enter the temple premises when it was closed for the night.
Following the arrest, Hindu groups called for a state-wide shutdown today.
Amid heavy security, Kerala State Transport Corporation buses brought pilgrims from Nilackal to Pamba and no services had been stopped, KSRTC sources was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying. Shops and hotels near the temple complex were open.
Normal life was hit elsewhere in the state. Buses and auto-rickshaws remained off roads in several areas, according to Press Trust of India.
KSRTC Managing Director Tomin J Thachankary told PTI, the corporation was running buses in Sabarimala with police protection to help pilgrims reach the temple.
In Balrampuram near Thiruvananthapuram, protesters attacked a KSRTC bus and damaging its windows, he told PTI.
Sabarimala police sources:
- BJP leader V V Rajesh asked to leave the Sabarimala shrine
- VV Rajesh stayed at the shrine since yesterday
- The BJP leader would be arrested if he defies police orders
Lord Ayyappa devotees being the trek from Pamba, the base camp, to Sabarimala Temple as the 62-day long Mandala Pooja-Magaravilaku annual pilgrimage season begins.
Yesterday, activist Tripti Desai landed in Kochi airport with the intention of travelling to Sabarimala, but had to spend the dat at the airport after protesters gathered outside and prevented her from getting out. Ms Desai had, earlier in the week, sent an email to the Kerala chief minister seeking security during her travel to the hill shrine. Facing stiff protests for over 10 hours, Ms Desai decided to return to Pune.
Sabarimala was re-opened on Friday evening, the third time after the Supreme Court ruling that allowed the entry of women between 10 to 50 years. The temple will be open to devotees for a 2-month long puja with lakhs of devotees expected everyday.