No woman of reproductive age has been able to enter Sabarimala temple so far following stiff protests.
PAMBA, KERALA: Eleven women, who were waiting at Pamba to attempt the 5-km trek to the Sabarimala hill shrine, said they were evicted from the base camp by the Kerala police following a huge face-off with protesters. The police have denied the accusation. The group was expected to be the first of several planning to attempt the trek in December - three months after a Supreme Court order that opened the temple doors to women of all ages. Around 40 women are expected to arrive over the next few days to attempt offer puja when the temple opens for Makarsankranti on December 30.
Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
- Accusing the police of enacting a drama, the women, who were shifted to the police control room at Pamba, said, "The police failed us. They told us they can't provide us security and forcibly evicted us". The police, they further said, "delayed" them in the morning which played into the hands of the protesters. "We came at 3 am but the police made us wait for 9 hours and escorted us around 12 pm, provoking hundreds of protesters gathered," they said.
- The Kerala police denied the allegations, claiming the women chose to return after protesters turned up in large numbers. "We didn't delay the women in the morning. We provided adequate security, we tried to take them forward. They decided to go because of the crowd," said Karthikeyan, a senior police officer.
- Protests intensified at Pamba against the women only three hours after they gathered at the base camp at dawn. The women's group told NDTV that the protesters "snatched" their "irumudi" or offerings kit that devotees carry on their heads.
- The police action started after the protesters charged towards the women when police escorted them few metres - a gesture which many call tokenism. Eleven men have been arrested.
- The administration has extended the ban on gathering of large groups between Elavungal and Sannidanam, till December 27.
- Of the 11 women, six, who have been observing the rituals, were to offer puja at the temple. The rest said they are present to provide protection and moral support.
- Around 50 women -- including the 11 who reached the base camp -- are coming from several states including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha.
- In September, the Supreme Court scrapped the traditional ban on women between the age of 10 and 50 at the famous hill shrine. The state government had said that it was committed to upholding the Supreme Court's order and providing security to women who attempt the journey to the temple.
- The Sabarimala temple's chief priest has told the government that he would shut down the temple and stop all rituals if there was any breach in its tradition.
- Both the BJP and the Congress are opposing the entry of women, citing a review petition that has been filed.
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