Sabarimala: Strike called in Kerala over Sangh Parivar leader's arrest

India Hindu temple turned into fortress for new gender battle

India Hindu temple turned into fortress for new gender battle

Over 500 women between the ages of 10 and 50 years have registered for the pilgrimage, but no woman of menstrual age has so far attempted to enter the shrine of the celibate god.

Thousands of protesters blocked all the exits at a southern Indian airport on Friday to stop a women's rights activist from heading to a Hindu temple to defy a centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstruating age. "She (Desai) came here not for darshan but for disturbing a peaceful Sabarimala pilgrim season beginning Saturday", they said.

"We reached Cochin Airport at 4:30 am".

Police officers held discussions with Desai and protesters but both sides stick to their stand.

"Trupti Desai is an RSS activist". She has tried booking cabs out of the airport but to no avail. If she wants, she can use her own vehicle. "There will be agitations all along her way even if she goes out from airport", BJP's M N Gopi said. They also demanded action against the police officials who arrested her. Trupti has said that she has been threatened to not step out of the airport, or her auto will be vandalised.

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Kerala police have confirmed to TNM that they will provide security for Trupti to visit Sabarimala, once she arranges for her auto and accommodation. The hilltop shrine opened at 5 pm today for a two-month-long puja, in which lakhs of devotees and tourists are expected to participate.

Desai, who spearheaded the campaign for women to be allowed into various religious places, including Shani Shingnapur temple, the Haji Ali Dargah, the Mahalakshmi Temple and the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, had sent an email to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking security as she fears an attack on her life during her visit to the hill shrine. Does this mean protesters are scared that we'll reach Sabarimala once we reach Nilakkal?

Rahul Easwar, president of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena, which is among the organisations protesting against the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala, on Friday threatened that social activist Trupti Desai will have to step on the chest of protestors to enter the shrine. "If your government can not ensure that, please at least don't insult us", she said.

The temple complex and nearby areas had witnessed widespread protests after the state government made a decision to implement the September 28 apex court verdict.

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