Sabarimala protests shift to Nilackal,  protesters to stop women; Police on high alert

Sabarimala protests shift to Nilackal, protesters to stop women; Police on high alert


Protests against allowing women of all ages enter Sabarimala has started taking a violent turn with protesting women blocking buses at the Nilackal base camp to ensure that no woman in the 10-50 age group makes it to the shrine.

The police are on high alert to prevent any untoward incidents. Though senior officers are of the view that the Supreme Court verdict is unlikely to attract many young women to visit the shrine. Still, police are not leaving anything to chance and will extend protection to female pilgrims.

The Ayyappa temple will open on Wednesday evening for poojas for the Malayalam month of Thulam. Selection of the melshanthi will also be done during the monthly pooja.

Members of various Hindu organisations have gathered at Nilackal, which is the main gateway to the hill shrine. Protesters also have threatened to move to Pamba, the last base camp before the Sabarimala trek.

A woman protestor threatened to commit suicide as part of the protests. A rubber tapper from the vicinity, she tied a rope to a rubber tree and threatened to “die to protect the customs and rituals of the temple”. Police and other protestors intervened and succeeded in dissuading her.

The women protestors also blocked a few female students bound for Pamba as part of a study programme. This created some tense moments and additional women force of the police was deployed. Women protesters check all vehicles arriving at Nilakkal to see if they carry women of restricted age. They are also supported by the tribal people from Sabarimala Poonkavanal.

Earlier, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had warned of stern action against those trying to protect women pilgrims. Police officers said they will provide additional security at Nilakkal, Pampa and Sabarimala.

Separately, BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai, who led a march of devotees from Pandalam to the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, said the protests would continue. He also blamed the Travancore Devaswom Board for the failure of talks today.