Sabarimala temple LIVE updates: Opposition Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala has rejected TDB decision to file the affidavit in the Supreme Court. He said that the board should file a review petition instead of filing the affidavit. He accused TDB of acting on the orders of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Travancore Dewasom Board decided to file an urgent affidavit in the Supreme Court on the entry of women at Sabarimala temple. Board president A Padmakumar said that they have decided to approach senior lawyer Abishek Manu Singhvi as the lawyer to appear in the Supreme Court.
Huge protests by hundreds of devotees at the entrance of Sabarimala temple forced the Kerala Police accompanying two women on Friday to call off their journey. Meanwhile, a third woman was turned back from Pamba camp after cops claimed that they were helpless after priests threatened to shut down the shrine.
Reacting to a Kerala minister's comment that the Sabarimala shrine was no place for showing activism, Rehan Fathima, one of the women turned back from shine asked him that how can anyone decide whether or not she was an activist.
Another 46 year old woman, Mary Sweety, who was attempting to trek to Sabarimala. However, the state police managed to dissuade her from going up for now. Earlier, the Sabarimala head priest had threatened that he will shut the doors of the shrine.
Kerala IGP said that the police force were helpless in the face of the protest as using force was not an option. He said that they had no option after the head priest said that he will shut down the temple. "Stopping the pooja would have been a ritualistic disaster," the police officer said.
The two women who were enroute the shrine were asked to return by the Kerala IGP. The police advised them against entering the shrine, as the devotees refused to relent. The shrine's head priest had also threatened to shut down the temple if the women tried to force their way in.
The two women who were enroute the shrine have agreed to give up their journey. The police had requested them to abort their plan earlier as an unprecedented showdown ensued between the police and protesters. In fact the head priest had also threatened to shut down the temple had the women tried to force their way in.
The head priest of the Sabarimala temple told CNN-News18 that the he will be forced to lock down the temple and hand over the keys to the temple managers of women between the age group of 10 and 50 years try to force their way in. The priests have completed the morning pooja, however, doubts looms large over whether the evening pooja can take place in view of the ongoing standoff.
Two women have reached within 200 metres of the Lord Ayyappa shrine, the farthest any woman between 10 to 50 years of age has ever come to the celibate deity's shrine. However, obstructing their way are around 250 male devotees who are lying down to prevent women from violating their faith, which in direct conflict with the recent Supreme Court order.
Kerala government makes a U-turn on its stand on women's entry following the latest showdown. The Kerala government's Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran said that the government had no obligation to protect the rights of activists merely turning up to stage a show of strength at a place of worship. He said the government will only protect real devotees turning up to pray to the devotee.
"We are here to carry on the verdict of the Supreme Court. We are not here to harm you (devotees). So please cooperate with us. We are also Lord Ayyappa devotees but we have to protect faith and law too," Kerala IGP tells protesters
Word that two women, a journalist and a devotee, are trying to trek up to the hill shrine, scores of Lord Ayyappa devotees have begin converging around the shrine. While some protesters are moving towards the woman — who are around Marakoottam, 2 km away from the shrine — another group is about to enter the temple and will try to block their entry.
Another woman under the age of 50 is trying to reach the Sannidhanam. Donning the traditional black robes and irumudi on her head, the woman has reached Sabarideepam, a place merely 2 kilometres from the main temple. However, unlike the Andhra journalist, this devotee does not seem to be wearing the protection gear.
Kavita, an Andhra Pradesh-based journalist, is at the moment climbing her way to Sabarimala under tremendous police protection. She is wearing complete police riot gear including helmets. Inspector General of Police S Sreejith is leading the police party. She claims she wants to report from Sannidhanam.
Amid mounting protest in Kerala against the entry of women of menstrual age into Sabarimala temple, the Travancore Devaswom Board will meet on Friday in Thiruvananthapuram to find an amicable solution to the row.
Ahead of the meeting, the TDB, which administers the hill shrine, on Thursday said it was ready for any sort of compromise to end the stand-off. TDB president A Padmakumar said the board has always taken a stand that it was ready for any sort of compromise to end the protest and bring normalcy.
"We are not for any politics over the issue," he told reporters.
Seeking to reach out to devotees opposing entry of women of all age groups, he asked if the protests would end if the TDB files a review plea in the Supreme Court against its verdict.
The meeting is being held after consensus eluded a crucial meeting of stakeholders called by the board last week to resolve the vexed issue of entry of women of all age groups into the shrine in the wake of the apex court judgment.
However, TDB, which manages over 1,200 temples in the state, including the Lord Ayyappa Temple, had said talks with the stakeholders would continue to find a solution.
Last week's meeting attended by various stakeholders of the shrine, including temple tantri (head priest), the Pandalam royal family, 'Ayyappa Seva Samajam' and 'Yoga Kshema Sabha', had failed to arrive at an agreement as the TDB stuck to its stand of not going for a review plea.
Representatives of the Pandalam royal family had walked out as TDB refused to concede their demand to take a decision on filing the review plea on Tuesday itself.
However, the TDB president had said the meeting was not a "failure" and the board wanted to settle the issue and go ahead with the talks with the people concerned again.
The Sabarimala temple, located on the mountain ranges of the ecologically fragile Western Ghats, opened on Thursday for the first time after the recent apex court order, allowing entry of women of all age groups there.
The shrine will close on 22 October after the five-day monthly puja during the Malayalam month of Thulam.