Sabarimala Protest: Despite Police Protection, 13 Women Activists Chased Away By Protesters
The Logical Indian Crew Kerala
December 24th, 2018 / 3:45 PM
Image Credits: India Today
Two women named Bindu and Durga began trekking towards Sabarimala temple at the hilltop despite protests from the devotees on December 24. Hours after they started trekking they were being brought back to Pamba Basecamp. Bindu while talking to media said that they were there to seek darshan of Lord Ayyappa to enforce the Supreme Court’s order. They are hoping that police would provide security, reported Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, Bindu and Durga have reached just one kilometre away from the Sannidhanam at Marakootam and are waiting for more police personnel to accompany them for their security. The police helped them moved forward from Appachimedu, where they were stopped by the protestors.
On Sunday, eleven women activists from Tamil Nadu, who are the members of Chennai-based women empowerment outfit ‘Manithi’, were forced to return when hundreds of protesters blocked their way and opposed their entry to the Sabarimala shrine on the hilltop. The women, agitated by the protest, had promised that they would come back even if they have to approach the Supreme Court. The BJP being against their attempt has now started protesting in front of these women’s houses.
Police failed to provide protection
The group could barely move 100 meters as the angry protesters blocked their path despite police protection. They decided to return when, even the police failed to provide adequate security, reported Times of India. The women had come to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa shrine but seeing the situation, the police personnel accompanying them also had to run away when the angry protesters chased them down the alley.
After six hours of a sit-in staged by the women, the protesters hurtled towards the Pamba base camp to prevent them from trekking further towards the shrine. As the situation went beyond control, bus services were also withdrawn. “We have written to the Kerala CM’s office requesting police protection for us, and they replied that they would forward our case to the concerned authorities,” India Today quoted Selvi saying.
On the contrary, police denied all the claims saying that the group had returned on their own because of security issues. “They decide to go back after seeing the situation; we don’t have anything to do with it. We’ve got a statement from them, and they’ve also given a complaint against the people who blocked them. We’ll surely take action,” said special SP Karthikeyan.
Reportedly, police have registered two cases against the protestors based on the complaint filed by Manithi members.
Women pleaded for entry
The 11-member team, all under menstruating age, reached Pamba base camp through Idukki-Kambamedu route on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border by 3.30 in the morning with a hope to offer prayers at the Sabarimala temple. However, they were unsuccessful.
They pleaded with the angry protesters to allow them to visit the temple and they also promised that they would not take long and would return soon. But, even after their requests and pleadings, the protesters chased them, and they had to leave as the situation escalated. Reportedly, Shashi Kumar Verma, Pandalam royal family representative also stated that women should not be allowed to enter the temple.
He said that it is a matter of belief and the rites and customs must be preserved in the temple. “If the customs are violated, the priest knows what to do, and they will certainly do that. The priests will not allow that to happen,” he added.
“We are ready to die but will not allow dilution of age-old customs,” said Hindu Aikya Vedi chief KP Sasikala, who was one of the protesters.
Although, Chennai-based ‘Manithi’, a group led by Selvi said that the group is not giving up and withdrawing the mission. They said that they will return to the shrine.
BJP members also staged a protest
Members from (Bhartiya Janata Party) BJP and other right-wing activists also staged protests across the state. They even protested before the Cliff house in Thiruvananthapuram which is the official residence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The Kerala BJP unit also slammed Vijayan for the “drama” enacted by the women activists and said that he is committed to destroying Sabarimala temple. Meanwhile, BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai said that the left government is trying to turn the hilltop shine into a war zone.
He announced that his party would observe a day-long protest on Monday and has asked for a probe by the National Investigation Agency into the matter alleging that there were no devotees among the members of the Manithi.
Senior Minister EP Jayarajan, while disapproving the charges, said that the government is committed to protecting the belief of the devotees. “We want peace at Sabarimala,” he added.
There is a massive rush of devotees at the Sabarimala temple as the auspicious Mandala puja is only four days away, reported News18. Mandalam is a 41-day long festival which will conclude on December 27 of Mandalapuja, and the shrine will close after Athazhapuja. It will reopen on December 30 for the Makaravilakku festival.
The Logical Indian Take
Sabarimala has witnessed several protests ever since the Supreme Court on September 28 through its remarkable verdict, allowed women of all ages to offer prayers in the temple.
Several women including journalist have so far made unsuccessful attempts to climb the holy shrine due to the massive protest by the devotees and right-wing activists. Now, the situation has intensified to such an extent that it is beyond the control of the authorities.
Even the Supreme Court, the apex court of the country sensed the need to set aside human-made customs which not just violates the constitutional rights of the women but also makes them feel inferior or second class.
The Logical Indian believes that the need to accept the court decision and end the ongoing protest which is affected the entire state. We also urge the authorities to look into the matter and take necessary actions against the protesters who have taken the law into their hands.
Written by : Anukriti Ganesh (Student, IIJNM)
Edited by : Poorbita Bagchi