India opens Sabarimala temple to women who menstruate

Elias Hubbard
October 17, 2018

The Network of Women in Media India (NWMI) have asked the government and the police force to provide adequate support and safety to journalists who have been covering the protests at Sabarimala. "Those who do so will have to walk over our dead bodies", one of the women protesters said as they "cleared" a bus of Ayyappa pilgrims, as reported by Indian Express.

The government had informed the court that it would not pilot a law and would only implement its verdict.

A family of four from Andhra Pradesh state, including at least one woman, were shielded by police after protesters shouting slogans prevented them from reaching the temple.

The judges ruled the ban against girls and women aged between 10 and 50 as discriminatory and, therefore, unconstitutional.

Special security arrangements and patrolling have been put in place in various locations including Pamba, Nilakkal, Erumeli, Vandiperiyar en route to the Sabarimala temple, located in the central district of Pathanamthitta. She was physically dragged to sit with them on a dharna, before the police came for her rescue, television reports showed.

The Network of Women in Media, India, denounced the attacks.

Amid chanting of "swamiye saranam Ayyappa" mantras, the "melshanti" (chief priest), Unnikrishnan Namboothiri and "tantri" (head priest), Kandaru Rajeevaru opened the portals of santum sanctorum of the shrine at 5.00 pm and lighted the ceremonial lamp. The temple is also opened on the first day of the Malayalam month. Protesters, who had gathered at Nilakal, about 20 km from the foothills of the temple, have been removed.

The demonstrators were forcibly turning back stray women visiting the shrine despite police assurances that no one will be prevented from taking part in the pilgrimage.

Two women devotees could not proceed to the shrine after protests against the decision to allow women in the menstruating age into the Ayyappa shrine.

Police arrested 11 protesters when they tried to block the path of some females.

Republic TV reported that its South Bureau Chief Pooja Prasanna and her crew were attacked by a mob of over 100 men en route Sabarimala.

In the middle of the melee, the agitating mobs were also openly seen wagging fingers at journalists and threatening them to pack up their cameras and go home. But the protesters bullied and attacked some devotees and journalists elsewhere.

A police officer hurls back a stone at a protester during clashes outside the Sabarimala temple. Libi C.S., a young journalist who is the editor of a news website Newsgil, had in a Facebook post on Wednesday announced that she was likely to travel to Sabarimala. "The BJP-RSS are trying to create tension and destroy the peaceful atmosphere in Kerala for political gain".

Kerala Congress working president K Sudhakaran led his party workers in a protest at Nilakkal to express solidarity with Ayyappa devotees.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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