Amid intensifying protest in the region against the entry of women in the menstrual age group in the Sabarimala temple, the Sabarimala Protection Committee has called for a 12-hour statewide strike on Thursday in Kerala. The state administration on Wednesday imposed Section 144 in four places-- Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal, and Elavungal. According to Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) prohibits an assembly of more than four people in an area.
The Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, which opened to devotees on Wednesday, witnessed incidents of violence and protests in Pamba, Nilakkal, Sannidhanam, and Elavungal. A bus carrying journalists and other passengers was allegedly vandalised by protesters at Laka near Nilakkal base camp. Earlier in the day, the protesters were lathi-charged as they gathered at the Nilakkal base camp of Pathanamthitta district. Stones were also pelted. According to sources, the Ministry of Home Affairs also took cognisance of the incidents of violence.
Meanwhile, women above 50 years of age were seen entering the Lord Ayyappa temple on Wednesday evening. Women between 10 to 50 years of age did not arrive due to security concerns.
The shrine of Lord Ayyappa, located on the mountain range of the Western Ghats, opened for the first time today after the Supreme Court verdict allowed women of all ages to enter the temple. The temple will close on October 22.
Scores of protesters, including women, have been up in arms since the verdict was pronounced. Traditionally, women of menstruating age were barred from entering the temple.
As a mark of protest against the verdict, the devotees stopped vehicles and prevented women belonging to the `prohibited` age group from moving towards the holy hill.
A tense face-off was witnessed at Nilakkal, the base camp, since morning with the protesters laying siege to the road leading to the famous hill temple and blocking young women, including journalists.
Trouble broke out as the agitators, who are opposing the decision of Kerala government to implement the apex court lifting a ban on entry of women of menstrual age into the temple, continued to block vehicles of pilgrims and pelted stones.
As police began a crackdown, the protesters fought pitched battle with them. Several people even ran helter-skelter and entered the nearby forest area.