Tension prevailed in Kerala on Wednesday after the police used force to disperse devotees opposing the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the hill shrine of Sabarimala. Acting tough, the police, deployed in large numbers at Nilackal, the main gate to Sabarimala, some 20 kilometers away from the hilltop, also removed a makeshift shelter erected by a protesting group Sabarimala Achara Samrakshana Samiti.
The protesting group of devotees had been staging a sit-in chanting Ayyappa mantra in the shelter in protest against the Supreme Court’s order permitting women of all age groups to enter the shrine.
The protesting people ran from the spot when the police initiated action in the early hours on Wednesday when they tried to block the buses from the key entry point to the temple. Hours ahead of opening of the hill shrine for the monthly prayer, the police said they would not let anyone to block the movement of the people.
Meanwhile, NDTV reported that, armed, masked mobs on Wednesday targeted women media-persons who had gone to cover the protests near Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. Five media organisations were targeted — in some cases in presence of the police. Republic TV’s Pooja Prasanna was beaten with sticks, Saritha S Balan from The News Minute was kicked on the spine. Midway through live telecast of the events, NDTV was stopped from covering the protests — reporter Sneha Mary Koshy and cameraperson SP Babu were heckled and asked to leave, their camera was snatched. Personnel from CNN-News 18 and Aaj Tak were also targeted.