New Delhi: Amid protest in Kerala over women entering into Sabarimala temple, the Air India has requested passengers to schedule their travel plans to/from airports. Earlier in the day, the protest had sparked after two women of menstruating age group, cloaked in black veils, stepped into the Sabarimala temple of Lord Ayyappa, breaking centuries-old tradition-defying dire threats from the Hindu right.
Taking it to the micro-blogging site Twitter, the national carrier wrote, “Protests at several locations in Kerala may affect passengers travelling from Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode. Passengers are requested to schedule their travel plans to/from airports accordingly.”
BJP and Hindu right outfits took to streets, turning into a veritable war zone for nearly five hours as the ruling CPI(M) and workers of the saffron party clashed, pelting each other with stones. Police used water cannons and burst teargas shells to bring the situation under control.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s effigy was burnt at Malappuram and four activists of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha were arrested when they forced their way close to the chief minister’s office in the secretariat complex.
State-owned KSRTC buses were damaged at Konni and Kozhencherry in Pathanamthitta district where the temple is located beside several other places. Devaswom Board offices attached to temples across the state were also locked up. Several policemen were injured in the violence.
People from media were also attacked by BJP activists in front of the secretariat, officials had said.
The development did not go down well with the temple authorities, with the head priest ordering devotees out of the premises and closing doors to the sanctum sanctorum. He performed a “purification” ritual for an hour before the doors were opened again.
Scores of women had made valiant attempts to visit the shrine since the Supreme Court verdict but were forced to retreat, menaced by hardline Ayyappa devotees.
Nobody knows exactly when girls and women of reproductive age were forbidden from offering prayers at Sabarimala, but according to a 19th-century British survey report the ban was in place even 200 years ago.