Kerala is on edge as the Sabarimala Temple is gearing up to open the doors to its pilgrims. Things are slightly different this year as the Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling in September, allowed entry to women of all ages.
Two women who braved the mobs were turned back after being threatened by the protesters at Pamba.
The mob grew violent and reportedly attacked journalists from The News Minute, Republic, CNN News18, India Today while NDTV reporters were not even allowed to report from the location.
The mob began to throw stones and threatened to burn down cars if women were allowed to enter the temple.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan previously warned protestors that action would be taken against them if they stop anyone from going into the temple. He said, "There is an attempt to create misconception among the faithful. They are trying to convince the people that the LDF government has committed a great crime. The LDF and its government have always stood for the rights of the faithful to live according to their beliefs. The government has adopted the same stand on Sabarimala also."
Sabarimala doors open; However entry for women still doubtful
The temple doors opened at 5:00 pm amid protests at the Nilakkal and Pamba case camps. Many women were threatened when they made attempts to trek the hill earlier today.
[WATCH] India Today crew took shelter in a police van; still attacked by protesters at Nilakkal
National Commission for Women has taken note of attack on female reporters, two women trying to enter temple
National Commission for Women takes has recognised the attacks on the women, including journalists of leading publications. A meeting has been convened to decide the next step.
Cameras, equipment damaged by the mob
A Times Now TV crew was attacked by the mob at Nilakkal. The is the latest in a series of attacks on journalists covering the ongoings at Sabarimala ahead of the temple doors being opened at 5:00 pm.
Commando team deployed to Nilakkal as extra security
Security has been beefed up with a commando team being deployed to Nilakkal ahead of the Sabarimala temple doors being opened. They will open at 5:00 pm.
Activist Rahul Eashwar detained by the police
Earlier today, activist Rahul Eashwar was detained by the journalist for protesting against the Supreme Court verdict.
Earlier, he challenged the verdict. According to ANI, he had said, "We are fighting to save Article 25 and also the basis of temples. If unfortunately, the verdict goes against us we have already arranged and we are thinking of giving a review petition."
He also challenged activist Trupti Desai to enter the temple. He said that if she ever tries to go near the temple, a human chain of 500 women would be there to block her.
VS Sunil accuses BJP of double standards; Says that the party is 'leading a fight against the verdict'
V. S. Sunil Kumar, the Minister for Agriculture in Kerala has accused the BJP of double standards telling ANI, "On one hand, five advocates associated with the BJP gave petition in Supreme Court over entry of women of all ages in Sabarimala temple, and on the other hand, the BJP is leading a fight against the verdict. Now it is trying to relate the issue to law and order situation."
'We can't say if they are actual devotees,' Kerala Minister says of the protesters
"I can predict what is going on there, I think it is intentional, it's dirty politics they (protesters) are playing. We can't say if they are actual devotees. Supreme Court's order is Constitutional & govt is bound to implement it," K K Shailaja, Minister of Health and Social Justice of Kerala told ANI.
Female reporters targeted in Pamba, Nilakkal [Video]
After The News Minute reporter and a reporter from the Republic TV were attacked, reports have claimed that a CNN News18 journalist has also been attacked by the angry mob at Pamba.
Saritha Balan, a reporter from the News Minute, was kicked from behind and someone even tried to throw a bottle of water at her, the TNM report states. It said, " She was kicked from behind as angry devotees took her photograph, called her derogatory names and chanted slogans in the name of Ayyappa. A woman also tried to throw a water bottle at Saritha."
A Republic TV tweet said that the channel's South India bureau chief Pooja Prasanna's car was smashed by a group of 100 people and they tried to attack her. She is now safe.
NDTV has not been allowed to cover the ongoing protests. The reporter and the camera crew have been turned away.
Watch Pooja Prasanna's car being attacked:
20 people held including Travancore Devaswom Board's ex president
Over 20 people have been held by the police for protesting the entry of women between the ages 10 and 50 from entering the Sabarimala temple, reports ANI. Among the arrested, includes ex-president of the Travancore Devaswom Board Prayar Gopalakrishnan.
The protesters took place in Pamba and Nilakkal.
Traditions and ritual should be protected: BJP leader
"It is important to protect the sanctity of the Lord Ayyappa Temple. The government is not taking into consideration the sentiments of Ayyappa devotees who are coming in large (numbers) to Nilackal and Pamba," BJP leader T Ramesh was quoted as saying by PTI.
2 journalists attacked at Pamba
The News Minute journalists and a Republic TV journalist were attacked by protesters in Pamba. The police have taken the attackers into custody, reports Indian Express.
50 people booked for blocking Madhavi's trek to temple
According to The News Minute, 50 people have been booked for forcing Madhavi and her family to turn back. The family of four were almost at the gates of the temples when they were forced to turn back after protesters threatened them.
Madhavi's family required the police to escort them to Pamba.
First batch of women devotees turned back
Two women devotees were not allowed entry into the temple and were forced to turn back to Pamba. One woman is from Kerala and the other is from Andhra Pradesh.
Libi, a journalist from Kerala, announced on Facebook that she will go to Sabarimala on Wednesday, reports NDTV. The bus she was on was intercepted at Pamba as protesters threatened to burn the bus if she did not get off.
The other woman, Madhavi from Andhra was also stopped, along with her family while trekking to the hilltop temple.
Madhavi said that they had police security but the police left them as they got closer to the temple. She went on to say that her children started to cry when they saw the protesters and they had no choice but to turn back.
Mass suicide threats before temple opening
On Saturday, the Shiv Sena in Kerala said that they would stage mass suicide if women were allowed into the temple, an IANS report stated.
P Aji, a Shiv Sena leader said, "Our members will be stationed at various places in and around the (Sabarimala) temple and if any woman not supposed to enter the temple is granted get access, then their suicide squad members will take their lives."
According to IANS, he added, "We want the temple tradition and culture to be protected and that's our only demand. Hundreds of our activists will reach the temple town on October 17 and guard all entry points to the famed temple."
Women journalists forced to get off bus
On Tuesday, a group of women journalists were forced to deboard a bus by women protesters in Pamba and were asked to return to Kottayam, according to The News Minute.
Along with this, many devotees, including women also threatened to commit suicide if they were allowed inside the temple.
Sabarimala Temple to open at 5 pm today
Sabarimala Temple is scheduled to open at 5 pm on Wednesday. The temple will be later closed on October 21 after the traditional neiyabishekams and the pujas take place for the next four days.
Women vs women in Nilakkal amid chants of Ayyappo Swami Saranam
Since the Supreme Court verdict in September, many protesters, mainly women have taken to the streets objecting the SC order to let women enter the temple.
Here is a video of women protestors in Nilakkal
BJP backs protesters; will not allow police to touch devotees
BJP leader Shoba Surendran criticised the police for arresting those who stopped women from entering the temple. She said, "If the government is trying to suppress the protests using police, the BJP will stand with the devotees," according to Firstpost.
This statement was made after the police arrested 10 protesters in Pamba.
BJP chief on hunger strike
BJP chief Sreedharan Pillai is on a hunger strike in Pathanamthitta, protesting against the entry of women into the temple. Meanwhile, members of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee are also holding a hunger strike in Nilakkal, according to Firstpost.
Subramanian Swamy comments on the protests
"Supreme Court has made a decision, but now you are saying that it's our tradition. Triple Talaq is also a tradition in that way, everybody was applauding when it was abolished. The same Hindus have come on the streets now," Subramanian Swamy told ANI.
Supreme Court has made a decision, but now you are saying that it's our tradition. Triple Talaq is also a tradition in that way, everybody was applauding when it was abolished. The same Hindus have come on the streets now: Subramanian Swamy. #SabarimalaTemple pic.twitter.com/8GZvM4kDTN— ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2018
BJP MP Udit Raj criticises women for stopping people of their own gender from entering temple
"I have seen the fight for equality, not for slavery and inequality. On one hand, fight against atrocities by men is going on in the nation and on the other hand, women are fighting against their own freedom & rights. It has happened for the first time in the world, it's amusing - 'Make me a slave, treat me unequally, we're inferior to men' - women are stopping women. What's the point in this. I don't know what's happening in this nation," BJP MP Udit Raj was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
It has happened for the 1st time in the world, it's amusing. 'Make me a slave,treat me unequally,we're inferior to men'; women are stopping women. What's the point in this. I don't know what's happening in this nation. It's my personal opinion, not political: Udit Raj.#Sabarimala pic.twitter.com/o5pWFtnO6V— ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2018
I have seen fight for equality, not for slavery & inequality. On one hand, fight against atrocities by men is going on in the nation & on the other hand, women are fighting against their own freedom & rights: BJP's Udit Raj on women protesting their entry in #SabarimalaTemple pic.twitter.com/UZUIhdm7QC— ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2018
BJP meeting to be held
A BJP meeting is scheduled to be held at 11:00 am to assess the situation.
Heavy security deployed at Sabarimala
A team of 1,000 security guards including 800 men and 200 women have been deployed to maintain peace at Sabarimala before the doors of the temple open, according to ANI.
Tantri family to protest
The family of the head priest of the Sabarimala temple is planning a protest. They maintain that door of the temple will not be opened for women.
Pilgrims arrive at Nilakkal
Despite security threats, pilgrims have arrived at Nilakkal, the place where devotees begin the journey to the shrine.
CM Vijayan refuses to file review petition
The BJP, Congress members and many Hindu groups demanded the Kerala government to file a review petition against the Supreme court verdict, which Chief Minister Pinrayi Vijayan has refused.
"There is an attempt to create misconception among the faithful. They are trying to convince the people that the LDF government has committed a great crime. The LDF and its government have always stood for the rights of the faithful to live according to their beliefs. The government has adopted the same stand on Sabarimala also,'' CM Vijayan was quoted as saying by Indian Express.
Protests ensue after SC verdict
After the Supreme Court verdict, the state of Kerala has been in constant turmoil. The state government is making efforts to implement the new ruling while the Sabarimala temple priests, the temple's Devaswom board and many Ayyappa devotees have opposed the judgement.
Protestors have taken to the streets, demanding a reversal of the judgement. Many women have also taken part in the protests.
What was the Supreme Court verdict?
A centuries-old tradition of Sabarimala is that women between the ages 10 and 50 are not allowed to enter the temple since they are of the menstruating age. It was believed that their entry would threaten the sanctity of the shrine where Lord Ayyappa resides as the God is said to be celibate.
In September, a Supreme Court bench with five judges chaired by the then-Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra passed a judgement which ruled that women of all ages will be allowed to enter the temple.
The Kerala government heeded to the verdict while many, including the temple board and the Travancore royal family, opposed the judgement.