Shutdown In Kerala As Sabarimala Opens For Pilgrimage Season

Sabarimala row LIVE updates: Lord Ayyappa shrine reopens for 62 days, Trupti Desai to return to Pune amid protests

Indian airport protesters block woman activist's plan to enter hill temple

Though many devotees from the state kept away fearing violence, thousands of pilgrims from other states thronged the temple.

The board will move the court either Saturday or Monday, he said even as the temple opened Friday evening amid mounting tension in the backdrop of the stand-off over protests by devotees against entry of the women in 10-50 age group.

"Police told us that they will provide us security the next time we visit".

The decision for sending the women back crystallised around 6.30 p.m. following sustained efforts by the police, airport, revenue, and Central Industrial Security Force authorities to convince Ms. Desai of the seemingly insurmountable odds against exiting the airport and continuing the onward journey to Sabarimala. Speaking to TNM, Trupti said that the protesters have threatened to vandalise the vehicle she travels in the moment she steps out.

Meanwhile, the Travancore Devasom Board on Friday said it will move the Supreme Court seeking more time to implement its September 28 order.

After a tense stand-off that lasted over 14 hours at the Cochin worldwide airport late into Friday evening, gender equality activist Trupti Desai and six other women chose to return without offering prayers at the Sabarimala temple in the face of unrelenting protest that gained in intensity over the hours.

The temple opened Friday amid a tense standoff involving social activist Trupti Desai in Kochi and a move by its administrator to seek time from the Supreme Court to implement its verdict.

Around 400 protesters have stationed themselves at the entrance of the airport but Trupti Desai has stated that she will not return to Pune without a visit to Sabarimala temple.

Desai and her colleagues had reached the airport early in the morning to visit Sabarimala.

"When we landed at the Kochi airport, protestors gathered there hurled abuses at us and threatened us to go back".

"We will deploy over 15,200 police around the temple for the entire season up to Jan 15", Kerala police spokesman Pramod Kumar told AFP. Trupti has reached with a group of women to enter the temple.

Several journalists were attacked by devotees when the temple was opened for six days on October 17 for the first time after the Supreme Court order.

Indian police mounted a major security operation on November 16 to prevent hard-liners blocking women from entering one of Hinduism's holiest shrines despite a court order.

2,300 personnel reportedly guarded Sabarimala and nearby areas on November 5.

As a result, the state government, run by the Communist Party of India, and legally bound to follow the court, finds itself at loggerheads with devotees and opposition parties who want the ban to continue until the court review.

The court has set January 22 to hear almost 50 petitions seeking re-imposition of the ban.

The National Ayyappa Devotees Association (NADA) argued that "the notion that the judgment is revolutionary, one which removes the stigma or the concept of dirt or pollution associated with menstruation is unfounded".

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