Sabarimala protests: 11 women who reached Pamba in bid to enter temple moved to Nilakkal; 30 more women headed to base camp

Protests have erupted yet again in Kerala's Sabarimala district as a group of 11 women devotees reached the Pamba base camp on Sunday morning in a bid to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple. The Kerala Police escorted the women — members of the Chennai-based 'Manithi' outfit — to the base camp, which is around 5 kilometres from the Sabarimala shrine. According to ANI, the police detained the protestors at Pamba.

However, later the women were brought back from the base camp and shifted to the Nilakkal police station as the protestors increased in number. According to CNN-News18,  more protests are expected in Pamba as another batch of 30 women devotees is headed to Pamba. Security has been heightened in the area leading to the temple.

Women in the age group of 10 to 50 years are traditionally barred from entering the Sabarimala temple, but the Supreme Court, through its 28 September landmark verdict, lifted the curb and permitted women of all age groups to offer prayers at the temple. The region has been tense since, with repeated protests to have the verdict withdrawn and to block women from entering the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

Meanwhile, the Pathanamthitta district magistrate has extended the imposition of Section 144 in the area till 27 December, citing security concerns amid protests. No unlawful gathering or protest is currently allowed between Elavungal and the Sannidhanam. which is the Sabarimala temple complex.

Of the 11 women who have reached Pamba, six carried the traditional irumudikettu (the offering), which is mandatory to climb the pathinettam padi (holy steps leading to the sanctum sanctorum). Clad in the customary black dress, the women, led by the outfit's coordinator Selvi, insisted that the group be given police protection to offer prayers at the Sabarimala hilltop shrine.

Selvi had told a Malayalam television channel that the group comprised women from different states, including Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka besides Kerala. She had also said they had already written to the office of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and informed him about their plan to trek to the hill temple. "We are here since 3.30 am. Police had said that they will provide us with protection but now they are not providing us protection to trek to the temple," she told ANI on Sunday morning.

Kerala has witnessed massive protests by devotees opposing the entry of girls and women of menstruating age into the temple since the state government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict. Over a dozen women have made unsuccessful attempts to trek the holy hills to enter the Sabarimala shrine. Four transgender people, who were earlier stopped from proceeding towards the Lord Ayyappa temple citing security reasons, offered prayers at the hill shrine under heavy police security on 18 December.

On 27 November, the Kerala High Court appointed a three-member committee, including two judges, vesting them with the power to oversee law and order and other problems faced by devotees during their pilgrimage. Kerala's devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran told reporters that the panel will observe the activities of the temple administration and make decisions accordingly, which the state government will then implement.

Meanwhile, activist Rahul Easwaran said young women won't be allowed to go inside the temple premises despite their repeated attempts.

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Updated Date: Dec 23, 2018 12:34:59 IST