Thiruvananthapuram: Tension in Kerala over Sabarimala Temple row continues for the second day on Thursday amid protests against the entry of women in the menstrual age group in the shrine. While, the ‘Sabarimala Samrakshana Samithi’, an outfit of devotees, and the ‘Antharashtriya Hindu Parishad’ led by Pravin Togadia have called a 12-hour-long hartal starting 6 AM on Thursday, Section 144 was imposed in four places – Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal, and Elavungal. Stay tuned with India.com for Live Updates on Sabarimala Temple row. Also Read - Chhattisgarh News, May 18: Section 144 Imposed For 3 Months to Curb Spread of Coronavirus
The hartal, called to protest the police inaction against devotees, has been backed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its NDA partners. On the other hand, the Congress said it would not join the strike but hold protest demonstrations across the state on Thursday. Also Read - 'Avoid Coming to Sabarimala,' Urges Temple Board as More Coronavirus Cases Surface in Kerala
In the wake of ‘hartal’, special security arrangements and patrolling have been put in place in various locations including Pamba, Nilakkal, Erumeli, Vandiperiyar en route to the Sabarimala temple. 700 additional police personnel had already been deployed in Pamba and Nilakkal, the base camps of Sabarimala pilgrimage, to maintain law and order and ensure the safety of devotees proceeding to the temple, DGP Lonknath Behera said. Also Read - Delhi Police Imposes Section 144 in Shaheen Bagh as 'Precautionary Measure' Fearing Repeat of Communal Clash
On Wednesday, the gates of Sabarimala Temple were thrown open for the first time since the Supreme Court allowed women of menstrual age (10 to 50 years) to enter the shrine. As women above 50 years of age were seen entering the Lord Ayyappa temple, females between 10 to 50 years of age did not visit the shrine due to security concerns.
Earlier in the day, the protesters were lathicharged as they gathered at the Nilakkal base camp of Pathanamthitta district. Reports also claimed of several incidents of stone pelting. Meanwhile, journalists were stopped from trekking towards the shrine. Some covering the course of events were also attacked.
Scores of protesters, including women, have been up in arms since the verdict was pronounced. Traditionally, women of menstruating age were barred from entering the temple. In protest against the verdict, the devotees stopped vehicles and prevented women belonging to the ‘prohibited age’ group from moving towards the holy hill.
The shrine of Lord Ayyappa, located on the mountain range of the Western Ghats, will close on October 22.