Protests at Sabarimala Over Reports of Woman's Entry, Media Attacked
Protesters claim that a female devotee trying to enter the shrine was under 50 years of age, while the police maintain that she was well over 52 years.
New Delhi: Protests were again the order of the day at the famous Sabarimala shrine on Tuesday. The protesters clashed with police over reports of a woman devotee, suspected to be in the menstrual age, trying to enter the temple. A video journalist was injured in clashes that followed. News18's camera crew too was pushed around.
Clapping and chanting 'Ayyappa saranam', about 200 frenzied devotees surrounded a woman pilgrim, identified as Lalitha from Tirur, who had come to the temple with 19 relatives for her grandson's 'chorunnu' (rice giving ceremony).
She was near the 'nadapandal' — the area just before devotees climb the 18 steps to reach the sanctum sanctorum — when her group was blocked by the protesting mob.
Those protesting claim that the female devotee trying to enter the shrine was under 50 years of age, while the police maintain that she was well over 52 years. She was able to offer prayers at the temple under police protection.
As they were speaking to mediapersons after the 'darshan', some of the protesters heckled them.
"We didn't expect such a situation," Lalitha said.
On Monday, a 30-year-old woman, who had reached the base camp at Pamba along with her husband and two children, went back early this morning without offering prayers.
She had told police that it was her husband who was keen that she should worship at the Ayyappa temple.
The Sabarimala shrine opened yesterday for the second time in three weeks for a two-day special puja amid unprecedented security over fear of protests by those opposing the Supreme Court's order allowing women of all age groups into the temple.
Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court has said that pilgrims should not be harassed under the guise of implementing the Supreme Court judgment.
"You can't cause hardships to pilgrims," the court said while hearing a petition seeking its direction to the government not to interfere with day-to-day affairs of the shrine.
The doors of Sabarimala had opened for six days on October 17 but no female devotee has been able to make it to its hallowed precincts amid a welter of protests and violent clashes.
Valiant attempts by around a dozen women, including activists and journalists in the 10-50 years age group, to script history came to nought as frenzied devotees of Lord Ayyappa heckled and hassled forcing them to retreat.
(With agency inputs)
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