This Article is From Oct 17, 2018

Kerala Tense As Women Head To Sabarimala Amid Protests, Heavy Security

Sabarimala Temple Protests: The Sabarimala temple has traditionally barred all women of menstruating age. The reasoning behind the ban is that menstruating women are seen as "impure".

Devotees are "screening" vehicles, preventing girls, women of menstruating age from visiting Sabarimala

Highlights

  • Nearly 1,000 police personnel have been deployed to manage the crowds
  • Top court has allowed entry of women of all age groups to Sabarimala
  • Kerala government has decided not to request a review of the order
Thiruvananthapuram: Protests intensified around Kerala's famous Sabarimala temple as the shrine to Lord Ayappa got ready to open its doors to women of reproductive age following a Supreme Court order overturning the centuries-old ban. Crew from four media companies was attacked and two women, who had started the 7-km trek towards the hilltop shrine, had to turn back. Despite the heavy police presence along the route, devotees backing the ban screened buses and women were pushed, manhandled and violently turned away from the base camp at Nilakkal, around 20 km from the shrine.

Here are the 10 biggest developments in this story:

  1. NDTV reporter Sneha Mary Koshy and cameraperson SP Babu were stopped from covering the protests midway. They were heckled and asked to leave. The crew from CNN-News 18 and Aaj Tak was also attacked.

  2. Two reporters -- one from The News Minute and one from the Republic TV -- were also attacked by anti-women protesters when they had gone to cover the protests near Kerala's Sabarimala temple. Republic TV said its reporter Pooja Prasanna was surrounded by a 100-strong mob. Saritha S Balan of The News Minute was "kicked on her spine" by a protestor, the website said.

  3. The police baton-charged protestors at one of the two base camps, Nilakkal, after they allegedly started throwing stones. On Tuesday, devotees pulled over traffic to check for women of menstrual age, forcing a group of female journalism students off a government-run bus.

  4. Top police officer Manoj Abraham said: "We were taken by surprise yesterday, but from today we are fully equipped to handle the situation. Every devotee will be allowed safe passage."

  5. A woman travelling to Sabarimala by bus was stopped at the bus stand near the gateway by a group of protesters. The woman, Libi, said: "When democracy and the Supreme Court order are being defied by protesters, I have come with the firm intent of visiting Sabarimala. I am not scared."

  6. A family of four from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, including at least one woman, was shielded by policemen carrying sticks after protesters shouting slogans prevented them from reaching the temple.

  7. Overnight, the police cleared hundreds of protesters from a site in Nilakkal and said no protesters would be allowed to gather near the temple. There were seven arrests -- three were in connection with an assault on a woman and her husband from Tamil Nadu.

  8. The restrictions on women entering the Sabarimala shrine reflects an archaic belief that menstruating women are "impure" and the deity Ayyappa is celibate. Many take a vow of celibacy for 41 days before beginning a trek through the mountains to the temple.

  9. The temple's head priest, Kandaru Rajeevaru, said they were "disappointed" by the court order but accepted it. The Travancore Devaswom Board, which runs the temple, had however, said the top court should steer clear of judging sensitive religious matters.

  10. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said his government will not give in to attempts to prevent women from entering the temple and police will help uphold the Supreme Court order. The BJP and the Congress have demanded a review of the court order.