Sabarimala row: 11th attempt by women to enter shrine fails amidst protests

Thiruvananthapuram: Eleven women, who were waiting at Pamba to attempt the 12-km trek to the Sabarimala hill shrine, said they were evicted from the base camp by the Kerala police following a huge face-off with protesters. The police have denied the accusation.

Accusing the police of enacting a drama, the women, who were shifted to the police control room at Pamba, said, “The police failed us. They told us they can’t provide us security and forcibly evicted us”. The police, they further said, “delayed” them in the morning which played into the hands of the protesters.

The group was expected to be the first of several planning to attempt the trek in December – four months after a Supreme Court order that opened the temple doors to women of all ages.

The 11th attempt by women devotees since October to enter the Sabarimala shrine failed on Sunday. In the face of stiff opposition by protesting devotees who “chased” the women out of the Pamba base camp, all 50 of the women activists who had planned to offer prayers at the shrine, were forced abort their plans. The women said that they would return to their respective home states, in wake of the protests.

The agitating protesters blocked the women devotees from reaching the shrine and held protests at the Pamba base camp. Eventually, they allegedly charged at the women and cops, and chased the ladies out of the camp, following which the cops had to shift the women to Pamba police station. The women aborted their plans to visit the shrine.

Meanwhile, authorities have extended Section 144 that prohibits gathering of crowds in the temple town till December 27. In September, the Supreme Court set aside a traditional ban on women aged 10 to 50 from entering the hill shrine, calling it “unconstitutional” and allowed women of all age to visit the temple.