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2 women stopped 1km from Sabarimala, police lathi-charge protesters

Two Kerala women devotees from the hitherto banned age group were stopped barely one kilometer from the Sabarimala temple on Monday by thousands of protesters, who had to be lathi-charged by the police as tension broke out here.

The incident came a day after 11 women from Tamil Nadu had to be sent back in the face of steep protests mounted by traditional Lord Ayyappa devotees.

Trouble broke out early on Monday when police accompanying the two women clashed with angry pilgrims after they created hurdles for the two women devotees, who are below the age of 50, from proceeding ahead for their darshan.

The police had to resort to lathi-charge and shield Bindu from Malappuram and Kanaka Durga from Kannur as angry Ayyappa devotees chanted slogans and approached them menacingly.

The 100-men from the police team managed to take the two up the pathway but have been stuck since 8 a.m. about one kilometer from the shrine as more than a thousand pilgrims have created a wall, chanting Ayyappa hymns and shouting slogans — determined not to allow the two to go any further.

The policemen shielding the women are waiting for more police force to arrive before they move forward.

Speaking to the media, Bindu, an advocate, said Sabarimala tantris are not above the Supreme Court.

“I want to pray at the temple and I don’t think the law of tantri is above the law of the land,” said Bindu.

The temple town has witnessed protests by Hindu groups since the September 28 Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, including those from the hitherto banned age group of 10 to 50 years.

Ever since the verdict, around three dozen women from the hitherto banned age group have tried and failed to go up the pathway leading to the temple, following protest from the believers.

On Sunday, 11 women from Tamil Nadu in that age group failed to reach the temple, after massive protests broke out against them forcing the police and the women to flee to safety.

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