Amid threats of “mass suicides” and disruption, the famous Sabarimala Temple in Kerala will open its doors on Wednesday evening at 5 pm — including for women devotees of all ages.
Tensions are running high in Kerala as the gates to the hill shrine will be opened for the first time since the Supreme Court lifted the age-old entry ban on women in the 10-50 age group.
The police took to lathicharge as protesters pelted stones at those trying to trek to the Sabarimala shrine.
— ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2018
The media personnel, including female journalists, present at the site were also attacked and threatened by the protesters who asked them to turn off their cameras and return.
At least four media organizations were targeted – even in presence of the police, according to some cases.
Republic TV’s Pooja Prasanna was beaten with sticks while Saritha S Balan from The News Minute was kicked on the spine. Personnel from CNN-News 18 and Aaj Tak were also targeted. NDTV was stopped from covering the protests midway — reporter Sneha Mary Koshy and cameraperson SP Babu were heckled and asked to leave.
Media persons at Nilakkal were attacked by protesters agitating against the Supreme Court verdict which allows women between the age group of 10-50 to enter #Sabarimala.
Express video | @anilkumartcym. pic.twitter.com/ntGBFQncKU
— The New Indian Express (@NewIndianXpress) October 17, 2018
Sneha Mary Koshy was on a state transport bus carrying devotees to Sabarimala, when a mob of 20 men, allegedly belonging to Karma Samithi surrounded the bus and tried to pull her out. She was verbally abused and physically attacked.
Earlier today, as devotees made their way to the shrine, the police detained multiple protesters for blocking the pilgrims. Representatives of the Thantri (priest) family and members of the Pandalam Royal family were also detained. The BJP, in a warning to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said, “The protest will change the face of Kerala.” Kerala BJP leaders also warned of “severe consequences” if the police lathicharge “Hindu devotees.”
#Sabarimala opened its doors to women for the first time today. Among the leaders protesting against the SC verdict at Nilakkal are Sobha Surendran and MT Ramesh of the BJP.
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) October 17, 2018
Meanwhile, tribeswomen joined the protest against the state government decision to implement the Supreme Court order permitting women of all age groups to worship at the Sabarimala Temple.
The leader of Malampandaram tribe at Laha, Uthaman, said women who menstruated were denied entry to Sabarimala since decades. The tribal people of Sabarimala Poonkavanom were deeply hurt by the government’s move to break the practice.