The Sabarimala Temple gates opened to devotees on Wednesday amid violent protests against women devotees and journalists. Officials issued prohibitory orders at four places – Nilakkal, Pampa, Elavunkal and Sannidhanam from midnight.
The Kerala police dispersed protestors demonstrating against the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday, when it opened for monthly rituals. Earlier in the day, the police dismantled tents set up by protestors, both men and women, and acted against some protesting devotees, who were checking vehicles headed towards the shrine and forcing women to alight.
Pathanamthitta District Collector PB Nooh said there will be no obstruction to peaceful pilgrims on October 18.
Last month, the Supreme Court allowed the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 into the Sabarimala temple. The Left government in Kerala has decided to implement the court ruling and not file a review, while the Opposition Congress and the BJP have accused the state of showing “undue haste” in implementing the order. The National Ayyappa Devotees Association and the Nair Service Society have filed review petitions in the top court.
8.02 pm: Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury demands punishment for protestors, ANI reports. “Condemnable! The way women journalists were manhandled by so called devotees is unacceptable,” says Yechury. “Contempt of court is a crime.”
7.08 pm: The Indian Journalists Union condemns the attacks on media persons during the protests against the entry of women into the temple, Mathrubhumi reports.
7.07 pm: Devotees climb the Pathinettam Padi to enter the temple amid protests against women entering the shrine, ANI reports.
7.00 pm: Sabarimala Karma Samiti calls for a protest on Thursday, Mathrubhumi reports. Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance extends support, says BJP’s Kerala unit chief PS Sreedharan Pillai.
6.54 pm: The Ministry of Home Affairs takes cognisance of violence in Kerala, ANI reports.
6.35 pm: Police personnel seen vandalising two-wheelers and cars parked in Pampa, ANI reports.
6. 26 pm: Priests offer prayers at the temple.
6.14 pm: The National Commission for Women requests the Kerala police to ensure the security of women who wish to enter the temple premises, PTI reports. The panel urges the police to take strict action against those resorting to violence.
6.08 pm: Kerala minister EP Jayarajan accuses Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers of hiding in the forests near the temple before attacking devotees, ANI reports. “Ten media personnel, five devotees and 15 policemen were attacked,” the minister says.
“Ten Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses were damaged. Devotees from other states were beaten up and sent back. The RSS and Bharatiya Janata Party is behind all of this.”
5.43 pm: Officials issue prohibitory orders at four places – Nilakkal, Pampa, Elavunkal and Sannidhanam from midnight. Pathanamthitta District Collector PB Nooh says there will be no obstruction to peaceful pilgrims on October 18. No permissions will be granted for protests, The News Minute reports.
5.21 pm: The National Commission for Women takes suo moto cognisance of a mob attack on News18 reporter and crew during the protest.
5.20 pm: A video of police escorting a 45-year-old woman devotee from Kakinada to the temple site on Wednesday morning. Protestors, however, blocked her entry and forced her to return.
5.42 pm: Protestors allegedly accost ANI reporter Karam Ingerlose and break his phone, ANI reports. They forced him to apologise for shooting a video.
5.15 pm: Police record activist Rahul Easwar’s arrest at Pamba police station. The charges against him have not been disclosed yet, officials told Scroll.in. Easwar claims his arrest is vendetta against him. “I didn’t hit any woman there,” he told ANI.
5.14 pm: Fringe groups Antharashtriya Hindu Parishad led by Pravin Togadia and the Sabarimala Samrakshana Samithi have called for a 24-hour shutdown starting at midnight to protest the entry of women into the temple, PTI reports. The groups are protesting against the state government’s decision to implement the top court’s order permitting women of all age groups to enter the temple.
5.12 pm: Temple will remain open to devotees until 10.30 pm on Wednesday night, ANI reports. Devotees will be able to offer prayers until October 22.
5.11 pm: Temple gates open to devotees, News18 reports. Protestors stop women at entrance.
5.05 pm: Pathanamthitta MP and Congress leader Anto Antony condemns attacks against journalists at Nilakkal. “Journalists should be allowed to perform their duties. I strongly condemn the attacks against them,” he told Scroll.in.
5 pm: The gates to the temple are about to open.
4.40 pm: Protestors attack ANI reporter Ayushmaan Kumar at Nilakkal while he was taking photographs of women protestors searching buses entering the area for women devotees, ANI reports. Police are reportedly present at the site.
4.15 pm: India Today journalist Mausami Singh is among those who were attacked. She and her crew have taken refuge in a police vehicle, ANI reports.
4.05 pm: Police baton charge protestors at Nilakkal camp.
4 pm: The National Commission for Women takes cognisance of the attack on women journalists near Sabarimala.
3.55 pm: There have been multiple attacks on media teams at Nilakkal. The equipment of Malayalam TV channels Asianet, Reporter, News18 have been destroyed.
3.53 pm: Protesters verbally abuse Scroll.in reporter TA Ameerudheen when the vehicle he was travelling in got stuck in traffic at Nilakkal. “You mediapersons are concerned only about beef ban,” they tell him. “You are working for Pinarayi [Vijayan]. We are allowing you to go as there are no women inside. You people are creating trouble. Don’t come back here. Go.”
3.50 pm: Protestors have been pelting stones at police personnel in Nilakkal and now security officials in riot gear have arrived at the scene, reports The News Minute.
3.45 pm: State Health Minister KK Shailaja says the government cannot establish if the protestors are actual devotees, ANI reports. “I can predict what is going on there, I think it is intentional, it’s dirty politics they (protesters) are playing...Supreme Court’s order is Constitutional and government is bound to implement it.”
3.23 pm: “What Supreme Court says is what we abide by,” says Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala. “As far as local sentiments are concerned, it is the duty of the Kerala State Congress committee to place forward the sentiments of the people, they are not violating law in any manner.”
3.07 pm: Protestors heckle NDTV journalist Sneha Koshy and cameraperson SP Babu at Pamba base camp, asking them to leave, reports NDTV. Protestors also attack a reporter of ETV Bharat, Mohammed Shafi, in Nilakkal. He has been hospitalised, reports The News Minute.
3.01 pm: Police resort to lathi charge in Nilakkal as protestors hurl stones, reports Mathrubhumi. Police detain activist Rahul Easwar who has been leading the protests at Sabarimala, reports News 18.
2.57 pm: Sabarimala is located in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district.
2.53 pm: Kerala Police chief Loknath Behera’s office says 700 police personnel have been deployed to Sabarimala and an additional 300 will be soon deployed, reports Malayala Manorama.
2.47 pm: Protestors attack journalists of Reporter TV, reports The News Minute. Protestors damaged their car and camera equipment.
2.35 pm: Communist Party of India leader D Raja condemns attack on women and journalists. “These are organised and led by BJP-RSS combined,” News 18 quotes him as saying. “They want to disturb the communal harmony. Nothing to blame the Kerala government.”
2.26 pm: Independent MLA PC George blames the media for attacks at Sabarimala, reports News 18. “No attack has taken place,” says George. “Whatever has happened to you [the media] is because of what you have done.”
2.22 pm: Kerala police chief Loknath Behera says First Information Reports have been filed against protestors, reports News 18.
2.05 pm: Devotees stage a protest at Nilakkal base camp in Pathanamthitta district.
1.50 pm: Kerala’s Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran says several petitions submitted in courts to allow the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple have been made by people associated with BJP and RSS, reports News 18. “What is the BJP protesting against? What is the RSS protesting against?” he says.
Agriculture minister VS Sunil Kumar says the RSS and BJP have double standards, reports ANI.
1.46 pm: Police arrest 21 people in Pamba for protesting against the entry of women into the Sabarimala temple, reports ANI. Nine people were arrested on Tuesday.
1.41 pm: Protestors attack CNN-News 18 crew in Nilakkal and vandalise the car in which they were travelling.
1.33 pm: Kerala’s Health Minister KK Shailaja says there is no disparity between men and women, reports Times Now. “Some people are trying to play politics,” she says.
1.22 pm: Family members of the temple’s chief priests and the Pandalam royal family chant prayers to mark their protest in Pamba, reports PTI. Devotees, including women, sit by the roadside and chant mantras.
Sabarimala temple chief priest Kandaru Rajeevaru says centuries-old rituals and traditions of the hill shrine should be protected. BJP leader MT Ramesh says the government and police are trying to make Sabarimala a “war zone”
1.16 pm: Police take into custody over 50 protestors, including former Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan, reports ANI.
Police strengthen security in Pamba, Nilakkal and Erumeli, which are halting centres for Sabarimala pilgrims, reports PTI.
1.08 pm: Congress leaders stage a protest in Nilakkal, reports ANI.
1.04 pm: Protestors attack and verbally abuse The News Minute’s reporter Saritha S Balan in Pamba, reports The News Minute. Saritha was travelling in a state-run bus with other devotees when a group of men stopped the bus and asked her to get off the bus.
Protestors in Nilakkal attack the car in which Republic TV’s south India bureau chief Pooja Prasanna and her camera crew were travelling in, reports The News Minute.
12.36 pm: Police detain family members of the chief priest and the Pandalam royal family, which is the custodian of the temple, for protesting in Pamba, reports The Indian Express. BJP leaders begin chanting prayers in Pamba.
12.30 pm: Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee Mullappally Ramachandran says Congress will support devotees in the protests against the Supreme Court verdict, but will not support violence. He says the Left government should file a review petition in the Supreme Court against the judgement, reports Malayala Manorama.
12.23 pm: Police take into custody former Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan and the wife and daughter of a chief priest of the temple for protesting against the Supreme Court verdict, reports Malayala Manorama.
12.07 pm: Kerala’s Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran says no one will be allowed to block pilgrims from worshipping at the temple. He says he has arrived at Sabarimala to facilitate the entry of women into the temple.
12.01 pm: BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai says the party is trying to protect the interests of devotees and save Sabarimala, reports Times Now.
11.56 am: Kerala’s Minister for Agriculture VS Sunil Kumar blames BJP for the unrest and claims it is trying to mislead people.
11.51 am: Police detain people protesting against the entry of women into Sabarimala temple in Pamba, reports ANI.
11.45 am: Protestors stop a woman from Andhra Pradesh from entering the temple, reports Times Now. Protestors heckle Madhavi, who then decided to not enter the temple. Police detain 50 people for blocking her way.
11.35 am: Over 500 policemen and women are at Nilakkal base camp to ensure devotees are not stopped from moving towards the temple and vehicles are not stopped, reports The Indian Express.
11.33 am: Protestors gather at Nilakkal base camp again, reports Malayala Manorama. A few of them damage a car in which women pilgrims were travelling.
11.26 am: Former chief of Travancore Devaswom Board Prayar Gopalakrishnan says his only request is for a review petition against the Supreme Court order. “I am going to Sabarimala to do or die,” he says, according to Times Now.
11.22 am: Kerala Director General of Police Loknath Behera says protestors blocking vehicles and stopping devotees from continuing on their pilgrimage will be arrested, reports Malayala Manorama.
11.18 am: Protestors stop journalist Libi CS, a resident of Cherthala in Alappuzha district, from continuing on pilgrimage, reports The News Minute. Police intervene and escort Libi to a police van.
11.14 am: Police escort a family, including a 40-year-old woman, from Andhra Pradesh as they begin their pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple, reports The Indian Express.
11.08 am: “Supreme Court has made a decision, but now you are saying that it’s our tradition,” says BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. “Triple talaq is also a tradition in that way, everybody was applauding when it was abolished. The same Hindus have come on the streets now,” he says, according to ANI.
11.05 am: BJP state unit president PS Sreedharan Pillai says protests will intensify, reports Mathrubhumi.
11 am: Pathanamthitta district unit of Congress begins all-religion prayer meeting to save customs of Sabarimala temple in Nilakkal town, reports Malayala Manorama.
Nilakkal is a halting place for Ayyappa devotees during the Sabarimala pilgrimage and located about 23 km from the temple.
10.55 am: Adivasis living in the hills around the Sabarimala temple allege that the state government and the Travancore Devaswom Board are trying to demolish centuries-old customs by allowing women of all ages inside the shrine, reports PTI. They claim that several rights of tribal communities over the Sabarimala temple and places associated with the hill shrine have been forcibly taken away.
10.51 am: “We will not let anyone take law into their hands,” says Kerala Director General of Police Loknath Behera, reports Mathrubhumi.
10.46 am: Devotees stage a rally in Nilakkal town against the entry of women.
10.29 am: “I have seen fight for equality, not for slavery [and] inequality,” says BJP leader Udit Raj. “On one hand, fight against atrocities by men is going on in the nation [and] on the other hand, women are fighting against their own freedom [and] rights,” he says, according to ANI. “It has happened for the first time in the world, it’s amusing. ‘Make me a slave, treat me unequally, we’re inferior to men’... Women are stopping women. What’s the point in this? I don’t know what’s happening in this nation. It’s my personal opinion, not political.”
10.18 am: Protestors demonstrate near a base camp in Pamba against the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50, reports ANI.