Sabarimala: Due to rain, activist puts her plan to visit shrine on hold

Pamba: A Dalit woman activist, who was planning to visit the Sabarimala shrine on Saturday, has put her plans on hold and left Pamba following heavy rain, as high drama was witnessed when another woman was stopped from entering the temple by devotees who thought she was under 50. Today is the fourth day since the temple gates were opened for the monthly puja after the Supreme Court last month lifted a centuries-old ban on women between 10 and 50 years entering the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

Top police officers camping at downhill Pamba, about five km from the temple complex, held discussions with Manju, leader  of Dalit Mahila Federation,  during which she reportedly insisted that she wanted to visit the shrine as a devotee of Lord Ayyappa. Police told her that it was not possible to climb the hill Saturday evening due to heavy rains in the area, police sources said.

She has been convinced about the slippery state of roads leading to the temple and difficulties in climbing the hill and providing security cover in the rains, they said. Manju left Pamba in the evening, saying she was a devotee and would come here to climb the hill “on a convenient date.” She said police had offered all sorts of assistance to her to visit the shrine.

Police had earlier said it was verifying the background of the woman, said to be in her late 30s, and a decision regarding her trekking would be taken on Sunday morning. Manju, said to be in her late 30s, was making an attempt to reach the shrine, a day after the temple complex witnessed high drama and tense moments when two women reached the hilltop with police escort, but had to return before reaching the sanctum sanctorum following protests by devotees. If she had reached the shrine, she would have been the first woman from the menstruating age group to visit the temple after the apex court verdict last month.

Some BJP workers were arrested at Nilackal for violating Section 144 of CrPC (prohibiting an assembly of more than four persons in an area) that has been clamped in the area in view of the protests by devotees against entry of women of all age groups into the ancient Sabarimala temple.

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