Though the Kerala government mobilised police force in large number to allow all women to enter Sabarimala shrine, when it was opened first time today after the Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of menstrual age to enter the shrine, practically no such women able to enter the temple today.
As large number of Ayyappa devotees staged protests on the way to the shrine and prevented such women from entering the temple, the police force failed to prevent agitators. Women journalists were heckled, their vehicles smashed and young female Ayyappa devotees turned back as hordes of Hindu right activists besieged the road leading to the hill-top temple, abode to Lord Ayyappa, its eternally celibate deity, officials said.
Chaos and mayhem ruled supreme on the road leading from Nilackal, the gateway to the shrine, to Pamba in the foothills from where the devotees start the arduous treck to Sabarimala, as activists of Hindu fringe groups fought pitched battles with police, leaving many injured and bleeding.
Police lathicharged protesters, who were opposed to the entry of women in the 10-50 age group to Sabarimala temple, after they turned violent and attacked journalists covering the stand-off. At least four women reporters working for The NewsMinute, Republic TV, CNN-News 18 and India Today, were injured when the protesters turned their ire on the media contingent. Even male reporters were injured in the melee.
At Nilakkal, activists belonging to the BJP, Congress, and Hindu groups are protesting the Supreme Court verdict allowing women aged 10-50 to pray at the Sabarimala temple. The demonstrators were forcibly turning back stray women visiting the shrine despite police assurances that no one will be prevented from taking part in the pilgrimage.
Police tried to calm the protesters but they pelted stones on them, prompting the lathi-charge. This further enraged the protesters, who smashed the window panes of a police vehicle which was carrying away the injured female journalists.