Indian airport protesters block woman activist's plan to enter hill temple

Indian airport protesters block woman activist's plan to enter hill temple

Trupti must find her own car, stay: Top cop says they will only provide security

Trupti Desai said that she came to Kerala on the basis of the SC verdict.

The Sabarimala temple opened on Friday for the annual 62-day pilgrimage season amid unprecedented security arrangements following protests against the entry of women to the temple even as the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) made a decision to move the Supreme Court seeking more time to implement its order allowing entry to women of all ages. Due to massive Nama Japa protests - where protesters chant Ayyappa prayers - outside the airport against her visiting Sabarimala, she has not been able to come out. Sasikala was arrested at Marakkoottam, en route to the Sannidhanam in Sabarimala, early on Saturday after she refused to heed to the police's requests to go back. "Does this mean protesters are scared that we'll reach Sabarimala once we reach Nilakkal, or, are they trying to scare us?" she said while asserting, "We won't return until we have darshan".

Police officers held discussions with Desai and protesters but both sides stick to their stand. She has tried booking cabs out of the airport but to no avail. Leaders of groups like the Hindu Aikya Vedike said that they will not allow her to even step out of the airport, let alone go to Sabarimala. They also demanded action against the police officials who arrested her. Taxi drivers at the airport said they would not take Desai and her colleagues outside the airport.

Kerala police have confirmed to TNM that they will provide security for Trupti to visit Sabarimala, once she arranges for her vehicle and accommodation.

The hillside temple, nestled in a forest in the Western Ghats mountain range, will reopen at 5 p.m. (1130 GMT) on Friday for more than two months, with a three-day break in December.

"She was arrested as she was on the way to the hill shrine carrying the customary "irumudikkettu" [sacred offerings to Lord Ayyappa] to offer prayers", Vishwa Hindu Parishad state president SJR Kumar told PTI. "The RSS-BJP activists are protesting against us".

Widespread protests broke out in the tourist resort state of Kerala after the Supreme Court in September ordered authorities to lift a ban on women or girls aged between 10 and 50 from entering the temple, which draws millions of worshippers a year. "We have faith in the government that it will provide security for us", she had said.

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