Eleven women below 50 who tried to trek uphill to the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala were told to abandon their attempt by the police after hundreds of protesters blocked their way. Only six of the 11 women planned to enter the shrine while the rest said they came to show solidarity.

“Police told us they can’t provide us security. They failed us. They evicted us. We will not move. We are determined to pray at Sabarimala,” one of the women said.

Sabarimala temple case HIGHLIGHTS

1:24 pm: The 11th attempt by women devotees since October to enter the Sabarimala shrine also failed on Sunday. In the face of stiff opposition by protesting devotees who “chased” the women out of the Pamba base camp, all 50 of the women activists who had planned to offer prayers at the shrine, were forced abort their plans. The women said that they would return to their respective home states, in wake of the protests.

11:58 am: Following the arrest of a few devotees, aggressive protesters chased out the women devotees who had gathered at Pamba in a bid to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa shrine. In a break down of law and order in Pamba, around 500 protesters and members of the Ayyappa devotees organisations charged towards the police and the group of women gathered at the base camp, reports said. The cops have shifted all the women from the base camp to Pamba police station.

11:38 am: Kerala Police on Sunday detained Lord Ayyappa devotees protesting against the entry of women to Sabarimala temple. Section 144 has been extended in the temple town, in view of fresh bids by a group of women to enter the shrine to offer prayers. Meanwhile, Selvi, who is part of the group of women assembled at the Pamba base, said that the police had refused to provide them protection for their trek to Sabarimala. She told ANI, “We are here since 3.30 am. Police had said that they will provide us with protection but now they are not providing us protection to trek to the temple.”

11:12 am: Even as the 11 women asserted their demand to be allowed to offer prayers at Sabarimala shrine, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy raised questions over their background, alleging that these women devotees may be “Naxalites”. Swamy said, “Naxal minded people are instigating women. Today, there is fear of a turmoil. I think we must take them to be troublemakers probably inspired by Naxal forces who hate Hinduism. Action should be taken by the communist government.” Meanwhile, devotees of Lord Ayyappa held a protest before the group of women who had assembled at the Pamba base camp in a bid to enter the shrine.

10:07 am: KP Sasikala, chief of Hindu Aikya Vedi told Hindustan Times that they would not allow customs and traditions to be “diluted”. She said, “Come what may we will not allow dilution of age-old customs. We are ready to die.” Meanwhile, the supreme priests and the Pandalam royal family have threatened to close the gates of the shrie if the women came close to the temple.

9:43 am: As the Sabarimala face-off intensifies in Sabarimala, Kerala’s Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that the government would implement the decision of the Kerala High Court-appointed committee pertaining to Sabarimala issue. He said, “Kerala High Court has appointed a three-member committee including two judges to observe the activities of #SabarimalaTemple. The committee will take the decision and the government will implement it.”

9:22 am: In view of the fresh face-off at Sabarimala with 11 women reaching the Pamba base camp on Sunday, the Pathanamthitta district magistrate has extended orders for implementation of Section 144 till December 27. The order prohibits the gathering of crowds and protests between Elavungal and Sannidanam, ANI reported.

9:10 am: On the other hand, the Pandalam Royal family has asked the chief priest to close the temple in case of any untoward incident which is against the rituals and practices of the temple. Notably, the BJP and the Congress also against the entry of women at the hill shrine, citing the review petition in the SC.

9:05 am: Talks between police and the members of the rights group ‘Manithi’ fail as the women devotees reiterated their demand that the police should facilitate them to offer prayers at the hill shrine. The police have reportedly requested protesters not to flout section 144.

8:45 am: The group of women who reached the Pamba camp earlier said that they were hopeful of offering darshan at the Sabarimala shrine and appealed to the protesters to allow them to visit the temple. One of the women devotees said, “Please give us way, we will visit the temple and return back soon.”

8:30 am: Women devotees told reporters that they had come to the shrine after getting assurance from the Kerala police, however, they said that the cops later refused to allow them to trek to the shrine. With today being a Sunday, a heavy flow of pilgrims is expected to reach the shrine. The face-off between protesters and devotees may affect the flow of devotees.

8:15 am: The women who have arrived at Pamba belong to a group of 50 women, from various states including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal, who plan to enter the shrine together. Since October, when the gates of Sabarimala temple opened for the first time after the Supreme Court ruling allowing all women to enter the shrine, several women have tried to reach the shrine individually but none were successful as they were blocked by agitating devotees who launched violent protests.

Six women of menstrual age reached the base camp of Pamba on Sunday in an attempt to enter the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala on Sunday. The six women arrived at the camp in the early hours of Sunday and were escorted by police teams. They had begun their journey from Madurai by road and reached Pamba, which is 4 kms from the hill shrine located in the Western Ghats, at around 3:30 am, reports said.

8:00 am: A police officer told a news channel that a total of 11 women had arrived at Pamba, however, only six of them intended to proceed with the trek to Sabarimala while the rest said that they had come only to provide protection to them. The officer told NDTV that they were waiting for further instructions.

“We are here to support the devotees to enter the shrine,” one of the woman devotees told Times Now. Chennai-based rights-group Manithi has advocated support to the women devotees.

7:45 am: In November, activist Trupti Desai, who had reached Kochi airport in a bid to reach the Sabarimala, was not allowed to even leave the airport after hundreds of protesters gathered outside and also threatened taxis from taking her to the shrine.
A review petition in the matter has been admitted in the Supreme Court and the matter would be heard in January.

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