Kochi (Kerala): Activist Trupti Desai, who had vowed to visit Sabarimala temple on Saturday, decided to ditch her plans and return to Pune after over 500 protesters blocked the exit gates of Kochi airport, refusing to let her proceed to the Lord Ayyappa’s shrine. The gender activist and six other women flew into Kochi on Friday to pray at the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala but were forced to remain in the airport for over 11 hours as hundreds of BJP and Hindu activists blocked their exit.

As the hours passed, the number of demonstrators, including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists, swelled, taking control of the entry and exit gates both inside and outside the airport. The taxi drivers also refused to take Desai to Sabarimala for the fear of their safety.

As the protesters refused to budge from the exit gates despite police presence at the airport, Desai sought time from the from the police to decide on her further course of action.

“We will not allow her to leave the airport. Desai has got all the support from atheists like our Chief Minister who is determined to see that a lady gets to visit the temple. She is nothing but an activist who has scant respect for the tradition of Sabarimala. So it’s best that (Pinarayi) Vijayan sees that she is packed off from here at the earliest,” BJP spokesperson Shobha Surendran said.

Before her arrival, the police had told Trupti Desai that they can’t take her to Sabarimala temple owing to the law and order situation. The police accused her of publicising her visit leading to the current situation at the airport. “The manner in which she publicised her visit and came is a major problem. She publicised the time, date,” a police source was quoted as saying by News18.

Meanwhile, the Sabarimala opened today at 5 PM for a 62-day long Mandala Pooja-Magaravilaku annual pilgrimage season.