Massive protests and violence returned to the Sabarimala temple again on Wednesday as two young women under the age of fifty tried to climb the hill and offer prayers.
The two women, Reshma Nishant and Shanila Sajesh, who had earlier announced their intentions to enter Sabarimala after the historic Supreme Court judgement. They began to trek the hill around 4 am from the base camp of Pampa with heavy police protection. Protest erupted when a group of male pilgrims identified them.
In no time, hundreds of pilgrims gathered at Neelimala en route to the Sabarimala temple, vowing that the women would not be allowed to go up any further. In the face of protests, the police had to retreat, along with the two women.
According to a report in NDTV, on Monday, Kanaka Durga, one of the first women below the age of 50 to enter the temple, was attacked at home allegedly by her mother-in-law. She had gone to her home after hiding for nearly two weeks because of threats by right-wing protesters. She alleged that her mother-in-law came at her with a wooden stick and beat her until she could barely stand. Then she was thrown out.
Sabarimala Temple has been the site of protest and violence since the apex court ruled in September 2018 to end the age restriction on women. SC order has not been accepted by the devotees and protesters who believe women below 50 should not be allowed near the shrine's deity, Lord Ayyappa. Since the court order, attempts by women to visit the shrine have been blocked by thousands of protesters.