The area around the Sabarimala temple in Kerala turned into a war zone after Lord Ayyappa devotees blocking entry of women into the temples clashed with police forces. After the controversial judgement of the Supreme Court allowing women of all ages to enter the temple, protests have erupted in the state against the order. The devotees of trying to protect an age-old tradition which bars women aged between 10 and 50 years from entering the temple.
The temple doors are scheduled to be opened at 5 PM today, and thousands of devotees have formed a protective ring around the temple to prevent any women from entering it. The protesters were checking vehicles going towards the temple and removed women present in the vehicles.
The state government has deployed around 1,000 policemen and two battalions of women combat forces to maintain law and order. Police have removed pandals and road blockages erected by protesters. “We will ensure their security for travel and deal protests with a firm hand. We have completed police arrangements on Sabarimala route. If anyone tries to block and conduct searches on vehicles carrying Ayyappa devotees, they will be arrested and prosecuted,” DGP Loknath Behera said. Police also lathicharged protesters when they were trying to block women from going towards Pamba.
It is being reported that in a shameful incident, the police has also pelted stones at the devotees who are protesting.
— ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2018
There were also incidents where a swarm of devotees also attacked the car of Republic TV’s South India bureau chief Pooja Prasanna. The crew of CNN News was allegedly also attacked and the car where Radhika Ramaswamy was travelling was vandalised. The News Minute journalist Saritha S Balan was attacked near Sabarimala.
The protesters didn’t make any difference between women visitors to the temple and other women and blocked all women from going near Sabarimala.
In a crackdown on protesters, police have arrested several people leading the protest. This includes activist Rahul Easwar and family members of Tantris associated with the temple. Easwar is the grandson of the former high priest of the Sabarimala Shrine.
While the left ruled Kerala government has resolved to implement the apex court order and decided not to file a review petition as demanded by devotees, the Congress party decided to join the devotees and they held a peaceful protest against the entry of women in the temple.
— NewsX (@NewsX) October 17, 2018
After the verdict which was viewed as unfair by many, many are now saying that the communist government of Kerala which by ideology has little regard for religious beliefs and faith are using strong-arm tactics to silence devotees who are trying to protect their tradition.