Chaos reigns at Sabarimala as protesters block women

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OCTOBER 19, 2019

Kavitha, reporter for Mojo TV (foreground), and activist Rehana Fatima reach Pampa from the Sannidhanam on October 19, 2018.   | Photo Credit: LEJU KAMAL

Woman journalist and the woman devotee detained at Nadappanthal due to vehement protests

On a day of high drama, two young women, a journalist and an activist, were forced to abandon their attempt to enter the Sabarimala temple on Friday after protesting devotees blocked their path and the Tantri (chief priest) threatened to lock the doors to the sanctum sanctorum if the women were allowed to enter the shrine.

Tension gripped Sabarimala around 7 a.m. when Kavitha, a television reporter from Hyderabad, and Rehana Fatima from Kochi reached Pampa to undertake the arduous trek to the hilltop shrine.

The women, wearing helmets and flak jackets and protected by a detachment of policemen, led by Inspector-General of Police S. Sreejith, reached Valiyanadappandal, barely a 10-minute walk away from the steps leading to the temple around 8.40 a.m.

But the group was unable to go any further as they encountered about 300 devotees, including children, who were blocking access to the road leading to Lower Tirumuttom.

Pandalam Palace Managing Committee secretary P.N. Narayana Varma told The Hindu that he had sent a communication through a special messenger directing the Tantri to close the sanctum if any young woman violated the temple’s customs and entered its precincts.

Expressing anguish over the escalating tension, Tantri Kandararu Rajeevararu appealed to woman devotees in the age group of 10-50 to avoid visiting the shrine in the larger interest of restoring peace.

IG S. Sreejith, who is escorting the two women, appealed to the masses and said that the police, most of whom are devotees themselves, have to obey the rules and comply with the Court order. | Photo Credit: Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

The priests assisting the Tantri and Melsanthi (head priest) too came out in protest, expressing strong resentment against the police escorting the two young women to the temple. Chanting mantras, they squatted near the 18 steps leading to the shrine.

Responding to the communication from the Pandalam Palace, the Tantri said he would have to close the sanctum for purification (atonement) rituals in the event of any “defilement” of the temple precincts.

The police finally persuaded both women to abandon their trip and they were escorted back to Pampa under tight security by 12.50 p.m.


Courtesy/Source: The Hindu

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