The Pamba base camp at the Sabarimala hill shrine witnessed turmoil when 11 women of menstruating age tried to trek uphill to offer prayers. They were blocked by agitated devotees who also staged a protest chanting Ayyappa keerthanams for several hours.
After a six-hour deadlock, the women began ascending through the forest path leading to the shrine. The women could barely move 100 meters when hundreds of pilgrims came suddenly from the nearby areas and turned hostile towards the police escorting the women. The women, as a result, were forced to return and rush to a police guard room at Pamba.
The women belonged to a Chennai-based women’s outfit ‘Manithi’. Manithi leader Selvi claimed that they would come again. She clarified that they are not activists but devotees. She also said that the police dissuaded them from going to the temple.
Another woman told the media that they are strategically moving. She said that there are many Dalit women also who are about to reach Sabarimala. She added that the state and the police should ensure that these women can have their rights.
The Sabarimala Action Council, an umbrella of 40 Hindu outfits, had earlier declared that they would not allow the 11 women to visit the shrine at any cost.
SP, Pamba G Karthikeyan said that the women themselves chose to return back after getting a taste of what lay ahead. Police, however, has registered two separate cases against two groups of protesters for blocking women pilgrims on the way.