Sabarimala: Devotees force woman journalist to go back

Sabarimala: Devotees force woman journalist to go back

Police lathi-charge one of the protesters after they opposed the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala, Kerala, Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018. Tension was witnessed outside the temple on its opening day. PTI

A Delhi-based woman journalist of a foreign media outlet who trekked the Sabarimala hill was Thursday stopped midway by Lord Ayyappa devotees opposing the entry of women of menstrual age into the hill shrine.

The journalist accompanied by her male colleague, a foreigner, descended the hills from Marakkoottam area in the face of mounting protest by the Ayyappa devotees.

A case has been registered against devotees who allegedly prevented her trekking and forced her to climb down the hills.

The journalist later said she and her colleague decided to return after they were stopped by an "aggressive mob" which hurled stones at them.

A stone hit her on the shoulder, she said.

Reporters of Malayalam news channels who followed the journalist to the hill shrine said the devotees shouted slogans "ladies go back".

Some even allegedly hurled abuses at her opposing her entry into the ancient shrine, the reports said.

Police had thrown a security ring around the woman and her colleague.

Local TV crew said she is in her late 40s. However, there is no confirmation regarding her age.

The woman told protesters that she was a journalist and she was on her way to the shrine for carrying out her professional duty.

The police told her that they were ready to provide her security but she decided not to climb the hills further, police said.

The journalist and her colleague were later taken to Pamba police station.

Later on, a video posted on social media, telecast by TV channels, the journalist said police were escorting them in the best possible way they could.

"While we were midway to the temple, the mob got very huge and very aggressive and started pelting stones and something hit me on my shoulder," she said.

She said she and her colleague decided to return because they didn't want "anybody to get hurt".

The police tried to do their best to make sure that they reached the temple and enable her to carry out her professional work, the journalist said.

If she had been able to climb the hills, she would have become the first woman of the menstrual age group to visit the Sabarimala Temple of Lord Ayyappa after the Supreme Court order permitting women of all age groups to enter the shrine.

Yesterday, women journalists were heckled, their vehicles smashed and young female Ayyappa devotees turned back as hordes of activists of Hindu fringe groups besieged the road leading to the temple.