No woman devotee could make it to the Sabarimala temple after protests from right wing groups at Nilackal and Pamba near the hill shrine on Wednesday even as the Supreme Court permitted women of all age groups into the shrine.
The temple opened its portals for monthly rituals at 5 pm on Wednesday for the first time after the Supreme Court order.
India reporter for The New York Times, along with her colleague, a foreign national, were forced to abandon their trek following a massive protest early on Thursday morning.
Sabarimala Protection Committee has called for a 12-hour statewide strike in Kerala on Thursday. The state is also observing a statewide shutdown called by a Hindu organisation backed by the BJP-led NDA.
In preparation for the hartal, an additional 700 police personnel have been deployed in Pamba and Nilackal- the two base camps before the temple- of which 100 are women, PTI reported.
Section 144 CrPc has been imposed in four places – Erumeli, Pamba, Sannidhanam and Nilackal.
Kerala State Road Transport Corporation will not conduct its services today. A KSRTC bus carrying journalists among other passengers was vandalised at Laka near Nilakkal base camp by protesters on Wednesday.
The opening day witnessed clashes between the police and the protesters with cops resorting to lathi charge on devotees pelting stones.
The protesters, who opposed the entry of women in the 10-50 age group to the Sabarimala temple also heckled female journalists of a few TV channels and damaged their vehicles and camera equipment on Wednesday.
The mob reportedly vandalised vehicles and clashed with the police, who tried to stop the mob from causing damage.
Two women, one from Kerala and another from Andhra Pradesh who began their trek to the temple were stopped by protesters on their way on Wednesday.
Although security was tightened with over 1,000 police personnel being deployed near the temple, they were outnumbered by the protesters.
Kerala Minister for Industries and Sports EP Jayarajan said at least 10 media personnel, 5 devotees and 15 policemen were attacked and 10 KSRTC buses were damaged.
He has accused RSS for the attacks. The minister reaffirmed that the state government is just following and implementing the Supreme Court order.
Earlier on Wednesday, at least 50 people including former Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan were taken into custody in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district for protesting against the entry of women into the shrine.
Talks between the Travancore Dewasom Board and the Pandalam royal family, the head priest and the Ayyappa Sewa Sangh earlier on Tuesday had failed to find a solution.