Thiruvananthapuram/Pamba: Sabarimala witnessed high voltage tension for nearly eight hours on Sunday as 11 women from Tamil Nadu aged below 50 tried to trek the hills to worship at the Ayyappa shrine facing stiff resistance.
After resisting the mounting protest from a large posse of male pilgrims at Pamba for nearly eight hours, they literally ran into the police guard room to escape from a violent mob. They subsequently dropped their plans, and the police escorted them back to Tamil Nadu.
While Selvi, leader of the Chennai-based outfit, Manithi, who led the group, alleged that they were forced by the police to return, SP Karthikeyan Gokulachandran, who was the police controller of Pamba, claimed that they decided to return given the tense situation.
Ms Selvi also said that they would approach the court and would try to visit again.
Manithi had announced its plans to lead a group of about 50 women to Sabarimala about a week back and had also sent a request to the chief minister’s office seeking protection. They also received an assurance to provide security, she had said.
By Saturday evening they reached Kumily and were escorted by the police till Pamba on a minibus. Given protests at many places, the cops even reportedly took odd routes to reach Pamba.
While all vehicles with devotees used to be allo-wed only up to NIlakkal, the minibus with the women was allowed to go up to Pamba considering their security. By around 4 am, they reached Pamba and went to the Pamba Ganapathi temple for preparing the ‘Irumud-ikettu’ (offerings to Lord Ayyappa that has to be carried on the head while trekking). But the priests refused to do it. Hence they themselves prepared the Irumudikettu and proceeded towards the hills.
But about 50 meters ahead of the trekking patch, a large group of about 100 male pilgrims blocked their way, sat on the ground raising Ayyappa chants.
The women also squatted, determined not to go back and raised counter chants. As time passed by, the number of protesters increased.
Though police officers on the spot held a couple of deliberations with Ms Selvi, they were adamant on their plan. With no end in sight, by around 11 am, the police started removing the protestors one by one forcibly. In the meantime, another police party tried to take the women group