Two women, under the age of 50 years, who reached Nilakkal base camp Saturday to trek to Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, had to return back after police warned them about protesters in Pamba. These were the same women —Reshma Nishant and Shanila Sajesh — who had attempted to climb the hill to offer prayers earlier this week.
Reshma and Shanila had earlier announced their intentions to enter the temple after the landmark Supreme Court verdict. On Wednesday, they began the trek around 4 am from the base camp of Pamba with police protection. But when a group of male pilgrims, returning from the temple, identified them, protests rang out.
Within no time, hundreds of pilgrims gathered at Neelimala en route the temple, vowing that they would not be allowed to go up any further. In the face of strong protests, the police had to retreat, along with the two women.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Friday directed the Kerala government to provide “round the clock” security to two women, Kanakadurga and Bindu, who had entered the Sabarimala temple after the court lifted the age restriction on entry of women to the hill shrine. The two women’s visit to the hill shrine on January 2 sparked protests across Kerala.
Earlier this week, Kanakadurga claimed she had been assaulted by her mother-in-law for entering the shrine in violation of its traditions.
On the other hand, the Kerala government Friday informed the Supreme Court that 51 women under the age of 50 entered the Sabarimala temple since the apex court’s September 28 verdict. However, a close look at the list by The Indian express showed several discrepancies.
The Indian Express contacted 20 women from Tamil Nadu, four from Andhra Pradesh and one from Goa. The responses varied. In at least nine cases, men answered and said they had no connection to the woman on the list, in six cases the person who answered said the age of the woman concerned was higher than mentioned on the list and in two instances they said the age was wrongly entered during the online booking process.
Other TV channels reporting on the story also noted that several of the women in the list were above the age of 50. Incidentally, the names of Kanakadurga and A Bindu, both from Kerala and below the age of 50, were missing in the list despite confirmation that the duo had visited the temple. By Friday evening, The Indian Express report left many red faces in the Kerala government as it scrambled to explain contradictions in the list.