New Delhi: While Kerala is in the eye of the storm over the entry of women in Sabarimala temple, Lord Ayyappa devotees on Saturday began the trek from Pampa to temple despite a 12-hour shutdown call by Hindu group. The temple opened on Friday for 62-day long Mandala Pooja-Magaravilaku annual pilgrimage season. Also Read - 'Avoid Coming to Sabarimala,' Urges Temple Board as More Coronavirus Cases Surface in Kerala

It is to be noted here that Sabarimala Karma Samithi has given called for a statewide shutdown from 6 am-6 pm in protest against the arrest of Hindu Aikya Vedi state Pres KP Sasikala at Marakkoottam last night. News agency ANI reported, Sasikala was going to Sannidhanam and arrested after she protested when police didn’t allow her to travel at night. Also Read - Sabarimala Temple Issue: Nine-judge Bench of Supreme Court to Hear Matter From Jan 13

Carrying the customary holy kit ‘Irumudi Kettu’ on her head, Sasikala was stopped by the police near the temple. She was asked not to proceed any further as the temple had closed at 10 p.m, but Sasikala refused to do so. She was taken into preventive custody and currently, Sasikala was lodged at the Ranni police station.

Shops and other businesses were forced to down their shutters by HI, BJP and Sangh Parivar activists. Barring private vehicles, all other public transport vehicles stayed off the roads. Schools and educational institutions are closed for the day.

State BJP President P.S. Sreedharan Pillai told the media in Kozhikode on Saturday that no one knew the reason why Sasikala was detained.

“Things were now becoming very clear that the Pinarayi Vijayan government here wants to destroy Sabarimala by coming out with rules that will affect the traditions of the temple. Vijayan is using the arrogance associated with the power to achieve their mission and this will be strongly resisted.

Social activist Trupti Desai was also unable to exit the Cochin International Airport due to protests being carried out against her visit. She arrived at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai after calling off her plan to visit the Lord Ayyappa shrine over concerns of law and order. But she vowed to return to enter the Sabarimala Temple and said next time she will follow ‘guerrilla tactics’ to reach there.

 “Police told us that they’ll provide us security the next time we visit. We decided to return as we didn’t want violence due to us. This time we went there after announcing, the next time we won’t announce but follow ‘guerrilla tactics’,” the Bhumata Brigade founder said.

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 that hitherto banned girls and women aged between 10 and 50. The apex court this week refused to stay its earlier verdict.

(With agency inputs)