Sabarimala temple reopens amidst protests, violence

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Hours ahead of Sabarimala temple opening its doors to women of all ages in the renowned shrine in Kerala, protesters, mostly women, took to streets agitating against the Supreme Court's last month verdict.

TV crew working for Arnab Goswami's Republic TV were allegedly attacked by protesters outside the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday as the gates for the temple opened.

Congress is not attacking anybody and definitely attack on journalists is not tolerable.

Pathanamthitta district collector P.B. Nooh, who clamped the orders, said utmost restraint had been used, hoping the protesters would agitate peacefully.

Kerala Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran has held the BJP and the RSS responsible for the violence.

"The Sabarimala issue should not be allowed to flare up".

On the contrary, Maharashtra government without any delay implemented the court order in Shani Shingnapur temple.

Wednesday is the first day that the temple, set on top of a hill in the Western Ghats mountain range, will open since the court order.

There was a sit-in protest near the hallowed 18 steps leading to the sanctum santorum, with a banner reading that the traditions of the temple should be maintained.

The Supreme Court had on September 28 passed a historic judgement lifting the ban on entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the temple, a verdict that was hailed by rights activists but opposed by traditionalists.

However, chaos and mayhem ensued on the road leading from Nilackal, the gateway, to the shrine to Pamba, the foothills, as activists fought pitched battles with police, leaving many injured and bleeding.

Just before his arrest, Easwar, the president of Ayyappa Dharma Sena, said the protests would be "non-violent, non-communal and non-political".

One 45-year old woman identified as Madhavi who wanted to enter the temple abandoned her attempt after activists prevented her climbing the hill, the Press Trust of India reported.

"I say ego because no devotee who has faith in Sabarimala will try to break the 2,100-year-old rule".

"None would be stopped nor would anyone be allowed to take law into their hands".

As she was climbing up, she kept saying that she did not come to pray but to do her work. But it did not happen that way.

Supporters of the ban have been angered by the state government's decision not to seek a review of the Supreme Court's ruling.

The protesters also include many women - they have participated in rallies, blocked roads and checked vehicles heading towards the temple to see if they contain women between 10 and 50.

Police have tightened security in the area by deploying more cops. A woman reportedly threatened to throw stones and bottles at the woman journalist.

They were allowed to go in only after they showed proof that they were aged above 50.

Women journalists, who were covering the Sabarimala protests, were hit, heckled, and the cars they were travelling were destroyed in Nilakkal. "Those who do so will have to walk over our dead bodies", one of the women protesters said as they "cleared" a bus of Ayyappa pilgrims, as reported by Indian Express.