Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Mobs attack women near India Hindu temple

Mobs attack women near India Hindu temple

The iron gates of Sabarimala temple opened Wednesday for the first time since the Supreme Court allowed women of menstrual age to enter the shrine but by all indications none from the "banned" age group could make it to its hallowed precincts amid a welter of protests and violent clashes.

However, chaos and mayhem ensued on the road leading from Nilackal, the gateway, to the shrine to Pamba, the foothills, as activists fought pitched battles with police, leaving many injured and bleeding.

Simmering tension prevailing in Nilackal since morning erupted into raucous rowdyism as scores of activists of fringe groups heckled women journalists of at least four national TV channels and vandalised their vehicles. "Saritha was intimidated by the mob and violently physically attacked and verbally abused", The News Minute said. Stones were thrown at them outside the police van and lathis were snatched from them by the mob.

Liby said she would climb the hills and no one had the right to violate the freedom granted by the Supreme Court. "Why was the police not prepared to give protection to all women in the region?" 1000 police officers were deployed in Pamba and Nilakkal. She crossed the Pamba river with a full police escort but decided against proceeding further after barely walking for 300 metres. She had announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday that she would be travelling to Sabarimala.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday vowed to protect the rights of all devotees visiting Sabarimala temple, accusing the BJP and Congress of trying to destroy the state's secular fabric by politicising the issue.

The media crew of Republic TV, which was travelling in a private vehicle, was also attacked. We saw another reporter's vehicle had been smashed.

Republic TV's South Bureau chief Pooja Prasanna and her crew were beaten with sticks when they were inside a police van.

As angry protesters went after her, shouting and abusing, Madhavi chose to return. But amid huge mobilisation by right-wing groups opposing the verdict and incidents of violence, there was not a single woman in the contested age group present anywhere near the sanctum till the time of going to press.

Activist and Tantri family member Rahul Eashwar, who is leading the protest, was told by Additional Director General of Police Anil Kanth that laws should not be broken.

Two women devotees could not proceed to the shrine after protests against the decision to allow women in the menstruating age into the Ayyappa shrine.

"No one should be able to change the way this temple has functioned for centuries", he said.

Minister for Devasoms Kadakampally Surendran, who was at the temple town overseeing the arrangements for the temple opening, asked the BJP and RSS protesters to desist from creating trouble. Would you want your mother and sister attacked. More than a dozen protesters were arrested.

A Padmakumar, president of Travancore Devasom Board (TDB), the custodian of Sabarimala temple, said that there are no facilities for women devotees, adding that anybody who comes to pray will be allowed inside.

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