Sabarimala protest: Journalists attacked, woman devotee forced to turn back by protestors

New Delhi: Amidst the ongoing protests at Kerala’s Sabarimala temple against the SC verdict – allowing entry to women into the shrine – women mediapersons were attacked by armed, masked mobs at the spot, while they were reporting on the issue.

The attack was launched against four media organisations, with some cases where the police was present.

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.

The famous shrine – which traditionally barred women aged between 10 and 50 years from entering its premises – is scheduled to open its doors to women on Wednesday evening following a Supreme Court order. The protests have been on weeks and intensified as the date of opening neared. Since morning protestors have camped out at Nilakkal, the base from where the trek to the hilltop shrine begins. Additionally, several other protestors are holding fort at Pamba, from where the last stretch of the trek begins.

In a separate incident on Wednesday, a 40-year-old woman devotee from Andhra Pradesh was also forced to turn back by protesters opposing the entry of women of menstrual age into the hill shrine in Sabarimala of Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district.

As per reports, Madhavi, who was with her parents and children, began the climb from the first base camp of Pambha, from where the temple is 5km away. They had to abandon the trek soon as unrelenting protesters hooted and forced them to return despite being accompanied by a strong police force.

Madhavi was able to break the barriers at Nilakkal and Pambha as she trekked higher and police officers climbing with her assured her that they would support her if she wanted to proceed. But she turned back.

Over 20 people including former Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan taken into custody in Nilakkal and Pamba for protesting against the SC verdict.

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