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Sabarimala Tense as Kerala Police Force Two Women to Abandon Trek After Protesters Block Path

Though the women said that they will not back off from their plan to offer prayers at the temple, the police forced them to return as protests mounted. They were taken to safety at the base camp in Pamba by the police in a vehicle.

Updated:January 16, 2019, 11:16 AM IST
Nilakkal: Two young women en route to Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala were forced to turn back by protesters near Neelimala on Wednesday morning.

The women - Reshma Nishanth and Shanila Rajesh from Kunoor - were surrounded by a large number of protesters around 1 km after they crossed the base camp.

Police arrested five persons who had blocked the women on the trekking path but forced them to return as the protests mounted even though the women said they will not back off from their plan to offer prayers at the temple. They were taken to safety at the base camp in Pamba by the police in a vehicle.

The two women are part of a nine-member group who were on their way to the temple. They said they had already completed their 41-day penance before embarking on the trek. "There is Ayyappan there. Ayyappan has no objection to women entering the temple. Why are these people protesting then?" they asked reporters.

Activist Rahul Easwaran backed the protesters who stopped the women who tried to "intrude into #Sabarimala".

On January 2, Kanakadurga, 44, and Bindhu, 42, had made history by becoming the first women of menstrual age to enter the hill shrine and offer prayers, three months after the Supreme Court allowed women of all age groups to enter the temple.

Following their entry, the head priest had decided to close the sanctum sanctorum of the temple in order to perform the "purification" ceremony.

Violence involving BJP-RSS and the ruling CPI(M) rocked parts of Kerala during the January 3 hartal with several houses and shops of rival leaders and workers being attacked over the women's entry into the temple.

On Monday, Kanakdurga was attacked at home allegedly by her mother-in-law. She had entered her home after over two weeks in hiding because of threats by right-wing protesters. She alleged that her mother-in-law beat her with a wooden stick and she had to be hospitalised.

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