Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Breaking! Tension at Sabarimala Temple

Breaking! Tension at Sabarimala Temple

A total of 30 people have been arrested in Pamba, 9 yesterday and 21 today, in connection with protests against the entry of women in age group 10-50 to Sabarimala Temple.

Ugly scenes erupted as mobs surrounded and attacked the cars of female journalists.

Protestors heckled NDTV journalist Sneha Koshy and cameraperson SP Babu at Pamba base camp, asking them to leave, NDTV reported.

Hindu devotees gather at a temple during a protest against the lifting of ban by Supreme Court that allowed entry of women of menstruating age to the Sabarimala temple, at the Nilakkal Base Camp in Pathanamthitta district in the southern state of Kerala, India, October 17, 2018.

The fundamentalist Hindu Shiv Sena party, a staunch ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led federal government, backs the campaigners.

Kerala's state government said it would enforce the court ruling, deploying 500 extra police to ensure free access to the remote complex reached by an uphill trek that takes several hours.

"It was shocking that officers were there doing nothing", the reporter, Radhika Ramaswamy, said in a broadcast by the station.

Taking the full control of Nilakkal, Police also warned against those who create hurdles in the ways of pilgrims to the hill shrine.


One man appeared to threaten to smash the camera filming her with a rock.

Petitioners who appealed to the Supreme Court to lift the ban said that this custom violated equality guaranteed under India's constitution.

The police took strong action against the protesters after some of them checked the vehicles heading to Pamba and prevented the women in the age group of 10 and 50 from entering the hill shrine.

Rahul Easwar, an attorney for the temple, appealed to the female devotees not to enter the temple and give temple authorities until next week to file a review petition in the Supreme Court. "The Congress has joined the BJP in trying to drive a wedge between the devotees and the government and they are trying to break the secular tradition of our state", he said. The police had to encircle her in order to protect her from the angry crowd.

Television video showed the protesters turning violent and attacking the cars and vans of some female reporters and TV crew members some distance from the temple. Protesters, as well as police personnel, were also injured in the violence. Those protesting there are BJP and RSS people.

Hardline Hindu groups have threatened to commit mass suicide to prevent women from going to the temple, in what has become a focal point for the debate on women's rights in India.

The centuries-old ban reflected an old but still prevalent belief that menstruating women are impure, and the fact that Ayyappa was reputed to have been celibate.

The entry of women at Sabarimala was long taboo but was formalised by the Kerala High Court in 1991, a ruling overturned by India's Supreme Court last month.

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