Sabarimala: Angry protestors attack women devotees seeking entry, police looks on

Hindu devotees and activists gather at a Shiva temple during a protests

A total 30 people have been arrested in Pamba -- nine on Tuesday and 21 so far on Wednesday, in connection with protests against the entry of women into the Sabarimala Temple.

Since yesterday, women devotees seeking entry to Sabarimala have clashed with angry protestors wishing to deny them entry, leading to some tense moments in Kerala, especially in Nilakkal and Pamba, which are close to the temple. Other reporters including a female AFP journalist were intimidated.

Sabarimala Temple in Kerala is all set to open its doors for first time since the Supreme Court's landmark judgement allowing women of all age groups to enter the shrine.

Those against it include a large number of female devotees, the former royal family who are custodians of the temple, the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP).

No one will be allowed to take the law into their hands and strict action will be initiated gainst troublemakers, state police chief Loknath Behra said, reiterating Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan's stand that the state was committed to implementing the Supreme Court's order.

He added that several "scientists" had concurred with the view that the "positive energy" in a temple can be polluted by the entry of menstruating women.

Commenting on the threats issued by the Hindu outfits over the Sabarimala temple issue, the BJP leader said, "It's a fight between Hindu Renaissance and Obscurantism".

The Sabarimala chief priest, Kandararu Maheshwararu Tantri, 25, warned this week that "anger could easily escalate into violence if a few egotistical women try to enter".

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But Kerala's provincial government led by the Communist Party of India has declared its determination to uphold the Supreme Court ruling and not give into "the activists 'strong arm tactics".

News channels CNN News 18 and Republic TV both showed footage of their reporters' cars being vandalised. "If any change is made they will have to kill us and go over our bodies".

"Police were forced to intervene when some protesters started attacking media personnel", said district collector PB Nooh, stressing that the administration will make sure the pilgrimage was not affected.

BREAKING | Portals of Sabarimala Temple opened at 5 pm today.

Since a state court ruling in 1991, the centuries-old temple has barred women and girls ages 10 to 50 from entering. The operators of a temple in the northwestern state of Rajasthan believe the Hindu god Kartikeya curses women who enter the temple, instead of blessing them.

A huge roar would go up if they found someone.

Hardline Hindu groups have threatened to commit mass suicide to prevent women from going to the temple, in what has become a focal point for the debate on women's rights in India. India's Supreme Court lifted the ban last month, holding that equality is supreme irrespective of age and gender.

According to TDB, which manages over 1,200 temples in the state, 35 million visited the temple past year during a three-month season beginning November.

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