Sabarimala opening: Congress, BJP join Ayyappa devotees' protest in Pamba, Nilakkal

Sabarimala opening: Congress, BJP join Ayyappa devotees' protest in Pamba, Nilakkal

Hundreds of women devotees of Lord Ayyappa on Tuesday checked vehicles for girls and women of menstrual age at Nilakkal, the main gateway to Sabarimala in Kerala, and stopped them from proceeding to the hill shrine. Party leader and MP V Muraleedharan said the government should shed its stubbornness and respect the sentiments of the people of Kerala.

Barring the ruling Left government, the Congress, BJP and Hindu organisations are on a war path against the apex court ruling. Moreover, it is the duty of the police to protect and provide safety and security for women.

When she reached the Pathanamthitta Bus Stand, she was met with protestors (locals, both men and women), The News Minute reported.

"I'm a reporter!" Ramaswamy can be heard yelling in Malayalam as devotees break her car's windshield.

Tensions flared in India on Wednesday as traditionalists tried to stop women visiting one of Hinduism's most sacred temples, with angry crowds opposed to female pilgrims surrounding vehicles and intimidating journalists.

The Network of Women in Media India (NWMI) condemned the attacks and urged support from the government and the civil society in Kerala to make sure that the media is able to cover this controversial issue without fear and that journalists are not harmed in the process of doing their jobs.

Pooja Prasaanna of Republic TV said the protesters hurled stones at a police van where she and her crew members had taken shelter after their auto was targeted, and snatched away batons carried by police officers who tried to shield them. Yesterday several journalism students were stopped by protesters, mainly female, who were stopping and screening all vehicles bound for Pampa. She was slapped by protesters. The woman was later escorted out to the bus station by the police. Koshy said that NDTV and other media organizations have gotten pushback for sending female reporters into the tense situation.

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"In a situation as this, I and other women journalists get vast pride to report what is happening on the ground accurately". She had announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday that she would be travelling to Sabarimala. 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.

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

The centuries-old ban reflected an old but still prevalent belief that menstruating women are impure, and the fact that Ayyappa was reputed to have been celibate. "The ban is not anti-women".

"No woman belonging to the banned age group of 10-50 will be allowed to travel further from Nilackal and offer worship at the shrine", the Press Trust of India news agency quoted one woman as saying. Protesters will not be allowed to gather at the base, they added.

State Devaswom Minister, Kadakampally Surendran, who held a review meeting at Sannidhanam (temple complex) on the three-month-long Mandalam-Makaravilakku-festival beginning from November 17, said the government would face the agitation politically.

Meghna Pant, a female activist, said the celibacy of the deity was not more important than the equality of women.

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