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Heckled by Protesters, Andhra Woman Forced to Abandon Trek to Sabarimala

Madhavi, accompanied by her parents and children, began the Pamba climb accompanied by the police but was forced to turn back due to protesters.


Updated:October 17, 2018, 1:44 PM IST
Heckled by Protesters, Andhra Woman Forced to Abandon Trek to Sabarimala
Madhavi jostles with protesters during her visit to Sabarimala.

Sabarimala: The attempt by a 45-year old woman from Andhra Pradesh to trek to the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday failed as protesters prevented her from proceeding to the hill shrine at Pamba, one of the main entry points.

Madhavi, accompanied by her parents and children, began the Pamba climb on the Swami Ayyapan road leading to the hilltop temple, hours ahead of its opening for the monthly puja rituals. Despite impediments, Madhavi broke the barriers at Nilakkal and Pamba, accompanied by the police at every step.

However, 10 minutes into their trek, the family had to abandon its plans of praying inside the premises as angry protesters were unrelenting. While police officers climbing with Madhavi assured her that they would be with her if she wished to proceed, the woman decided to call off her journey.

Madhavi, a native of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, would have been the first female to trek the Sabarimala hills after the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups into the Lord Ayyappa temple.

Tension prevailed at Pamba for some more time 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.

Talking to reporters at Sannidhanam, temple tantri Kandaru Rajeevaru said the centuries-old rituals and traditions of the Lord Ayyappa shrine should be protected while BJP leader, MT Ramesh said the government and police were trying to make Sabarimala a "war zone".

"It is important to protect the sanctity of the Lord Ayyappa Temple. The government is not taking into consideration the sentiments of Ayyappa devotees who are coming in large (numbers) to Nilackal and Pamba," he told reporters in Pamba.

Senior Minister, E P Jayarajan said agitators would invite "Ayyappa dosham" (the wrath of Lord Ayyappa) for blocking devotees who go to Sabarimala after taking vrata (penance). He also said the ongoing agitation was "anti-people, anti-constitutional and anti-law".

"The government will give protection to devotees who are coming to offer worship at Sabarimala," he said in Thiruvananthapuram.

State Devaswom Minister, Kadakampally Surendran, who was at the Sannidhanam to hold a review meeting with officials, said the government would not allow anyone to take law into their hands and block devotees from coming to Sabarimala.

Meanwhile, Director General of Police (DGP) Loknanth Behera warned that people who blocked the vehicles carrying Ayyappa devotees would be arrested and booked.

The apex court had on September 28 passed a historic judgemnt lifting the ban on entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the temple, a verdict that was hailed by rights activists but opposed by traditionalists.

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