A video journalist was injured in clashes at Sabarimala on Tuesday morning over reports of a woman below 50 attempting to enter the temple. Hundreds of protesters gathered at Sannidhanam or the inner courtyard of the hilltop shrine and some targeted the media.
Protests turned violent over Lalitha, a devotee from Thrissur who had come to the temple with her son. The clashes died down only after the police confirmed that she is 52 and so, allowed to visit the shrine that is off limits for women of a menstrual age, or between 10 and 50 years. Lalitha and her son were escorted to the temple by the police. “I am not afraid, I want darshan of Lord Ayyappa,” Lalitha told reporters.
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.
No woman below 50 has been able to visit Sabarimala temple since the top court’s order on September 28. A dozen women tried, but were blocked by hundreds of protesters from approaching the shrine. Devotees have refused to accept the court order as they insist that allowing women of a menstrual age is an insult to the celibate deity Lord Ayyappa.
Yesterday a 25-year-old woman heading for the shrine with her husband and two children was stopped at Pamba, one of the two base camps before devotees start the uphill trek to the shrine.
“We have information a woman on way to the temple but nobody has approached us so far for security,” a police official at Pamba told news agency PTI on Monday.
The temple town has virtually turned into a fortress with hundreds of police personnel, including armed commandos and women cops above 50, deployed in large numbers. Surveillance cameras and mobile phone jammers were also installed.
Several local BJP leaders and Ayyappa Dharama Sena president Rahul Easwar also reached the Sannidhanam yesterday evening. A dossier of Hindu right wing activists, who are likely to visit the shrine to protest the Kerala government’s decision not to file a review petition against the top court order, has been prepared said official sources.