Two women escorted by the Kerala Police attempted to visit the Sabarimala temple on Monday morning, but were forced to turn back due to mounting protests. This came a day after protestors stopped a group of 11 women from visiting the hill shrine.
The women – identified as Bindu from Kozhikode and Kanakadurga from Malappuram – almost reached Nadappandal, just 500 metres from shrine’s sanctum sanctorum, before they were forced to abandon their plan to enter the hill shrine. Kanakadurga paid heed to the police’s advice to abandon the trek after she fainted, Mathrubhumi reported.
Bindu, however, refused to comply with the police order and staged a sit-in. The police then took her to Marakoottam before taking her away in a forest department vehicle, Manorama reported.
As the police and the women made their way back to the base camp in Pamba, protestors hurled bottles at their vehicle, reports said. “The police are not ready to create a law and order situation in Sabarimala by using force,” said Director General of Police Loknath Behera.
Earlier in the morning, the women had been determined to enter Sabarimala. “We will offer prayers at Sabarimala, come what may,” they told the media after stopping for a while during their trek. “The Supreme Court verdict should be implemented,” Bindu had said.
However, the protestors had stopped them at Appachimedu, around 2 kilometres from the shrine, and again at Marakoottam. There were reports of demonstrations outside the women’s homes.
“The women may not continue their trek to Sabarimala,” Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran had told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram. “The police have the duty to ensure their protection. The police are now trying to convince the women about the protests. Avoiding tension is the priority of the police.”
Tensions have run high in the state after the Supreme Court in September removed the entry restriction on women between the ages of 10 and 50. The temple has been open since November 16 – this was the third time the shrine opened to devotees since the verdict, but women in the traditionally restricted age group have been unable to reach the shrine because of massive protests. Prohibitory orders are in place in and around the temple area.