Protests continue at Sabarimala as 2 women try to enter hill shrine

Sabarimala: Four days after the doors of the Sabarimala temple in Kerala opened after the Supreme Court stepped in to overturn a nearly three-decade-old ruling formalising a ban on women of menstruating age.

Today, two women in their early forties who started walking towards the Sabarimala temple today were stopped by protesters 200 metres from the base camp Pamba. Vasanthi, 41, and Aadhiseshi, 42, said the protesters surrounded them, blocked their way and forced them to return to the base camp.

Yesterday, another women arrived at Pamba, attempting to enter the temple. However, Manju, general secretary of the Kerala Dalit Mahila Federation was told that no police protection will be provided until background check is done to verify if she was an activist. The decision is likely to be announced today.

Police sources said the woman has a few cases against her and alleged links to a radical organisation. Manju’s plan for the trek was also thwarted after heavy rains in the area.

On 28 September, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the then chief justice Dipak Misra, lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.

The temple will be cloased tomorrow as per the Hindu calendar schedule. It will be opened only for Manadala pooja celebrations in mid November. It may be recalled that protests intensified after the hill-shrine opened its doors to the public. The centre asked the southern states of Kerala, Tamilnadu and Karnataka to tighten security and monitor the dissemination of adverse messages through the social media.

Meanwhile Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan said the Kerala government was trying to pass the buck on the Sabarimala temple issue to the Travancore Devaswom Board that manages the shrine, instead of taking responsibility. ‘There is no place in Sabarimala for social activists or social enthusiasts. Activists are trying to destroy the unity among the communities and destroy faith in religion,’ he told reporters here.

He said the government instead of remaining silent on the Lord Ayyappa temple issue should take responsibility. The minister also accused the Kerala government of being vindictive to people who participated in the protests on the Sabarimala issue.

Yesterdasy, when asked about the trouble in Sabaraimala Ayyappa shrine following Supreme Court verdict, actor-politician Rajinikanth, said, “Traditions should be allowed to be practiced. It is a matter of faith and belief.”

Queried whether he opposes the apex court order on the issue, the actor said, “Women have equal rights and I respect the order, but we should respect traditions too.”

NT Bureau