Kerala

Andhra woman returns without Sabarimala darshan as protests mount

Pamba: The attempt by a 45-year old woman from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh to trek to the Sabarimala temple Wednesday failed as protesters prevented her from proceeding to the hill shrine at Pamba, one of the main entry points. As the the temple opens for the five-day monthly pooja in the evening, the agitation of Ayyappa devotees spread to Nilakkal and Pamba, the two main base camps of Sabarimala.

The woman, identified as Madhavi, a native of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, would have been the first female to trek the Sabarimala hills after the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups into the Lord Ayyappa temple.

The incident happened despite the heavy deployment of police personnel in and around Pamba. Madhavi, along with her family members, attempted to reach the holy hills in the morning via the Swamy Ayyappan road, one of the two forest trekking paths to Sannidhanam, but the group was forced to retreat after protesters blocked their way.

Even though the police personnel gave them protection and allowed them to move further, the family, after walking a short distance, decided to return as angry activists of Ayyappa Dharma Sena surrounded them and asked them to go back.

Tension prevailed at Pamba for some more time after police tried to disperse the protesters, who had gathered in large numbers.

IANS

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