NYT Journalist Forced Back by Mob Despite Police Protection

Many women reporters manhandled, vehicles smashed

Sabarimala.

It’s the first morning on Thursdsay following the tense opening of the temple doors in Sabarimala and once again protesters blocked a woman from climbing the steps to the hill shrine.

Suhasini Raj, a New York Times Journalist working in Delhi, was forced to turn back by the devotee groups protesting women entry being allowed into the shrine despite police protection.

The woman had to end her journey at Marakkoottam after protesters blocked her way.

Earlier she was blocked at Pamba by protesters who were chanting hymns of Ayyappa, but she managed to get past them after showing her ID card.

She had said that she came here as part of her job and not as a devotee.

The Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala had opened its iron gates on Wednesday for the first time since the Supreme Court allowed women of menstrual age to enter the shrine.

However, none from the "banned" age group could make it to its hallowed precincts amid a welter of protests and violent clashes.

Authorities have imposed Section 144 at Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal and Ilavunkal, but assured that the prohibitory orders will not affect the pilgrims making the journey.

Many journos covering the Sabarimala protests was attacked by a mob at the Nilakkal base camp, the main gateway to the hill shrine, in a cowardly tactic designed to intimidate women devotees ahead of the temple’s opening at 5pm.

Women journalists from different organisations were heckled and their vehicles smashed. Most of the attacks began in the form of "vehicle checks" by protesters to ensure that young women were not inside.

Chaos and mayhem ruled supreme on the road leading from Nilakkal to Pamba in the foothills from where the devotees start the arduous trek to Sabarimala, as activists of Hindu fringe groups fought pitched battles with police, leaving many injured and bleeding.

Angry over Kerala’s Left Front government’s decision not to file a review plea against the Supreme Court’s September 28 landmark order, protesters pelted police with stones.

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