Indian airport protesters block woman activist's plan to enter hill temple

Sabarimala temple A rallying point for the Hindu far right

The Travancore Dewasom Board (TDB) has made a decision to move the Supreme Court seeking more time to implement its September order that removed a ban on women of menstruating age entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

Desai had earlier spearheaded the campaign to allow entry of women to various religious places, including Shani Shingnapur temple, the Haji Ali Dargah, the Mahalakshmi Temple and the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple. NDTV delivers reliable information across all platforms: TV, Internet and Mobile. Despite the order, protestors have kept women aged 10 to 50 out of the shrine so far.

"Police told us that if we stayed there, there could be violence".

The decision by the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the hill shrine, to move the court was announced by its president A Padmakumar in Pamba, minutes after the temple doors were opened Friday evening.

Never before restrictions have been enforced for the devotees in view of frenzied protests witnessed when the shrine opened briefly last month and early this month when at least a dozen women in the 10-50 age group were prevented from entering the shrine.

The court has set January 22 to hear almost 50 petitions seeking re-imposition of the ban. A special bomb squad comprising 234 personnel is on duty, as are two companies of the Rapid Action Force.

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As a result, the state government, run by the Communist Party of India, and legally bound to follow the court, finds itself at loggerheads with devotees and opposition parties who want the ban to continue until the court review.

After a tense stand-off that lasted over 14 hours at the Cochin worldwide airport late into Friday evening, gender equality activist Trupti Desai and six other women chose to return without offering prayers at the Sabarimala temple in the face of unrelenting protest that gained in intensity over the hours. They were booked for protesting at a high-security zone.

Earlier on October 19, Trupti Desai was detained by the Pune Police after she along with other women activists threatened to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convoy.

Nedumbassery airport authorities had held a discussion with the district collector as the protests affected the smooth functioning of the airport. Several police personnel were deployed to control the situation. Desai claimed that taxi drivers at the airport have been warned not to offer her a ride.

Born in Nipani Taluka on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border, Desai's family moved to Pune when she was eight.

She said police had promised to give her protection next time she came and urged them to return to avoid any trouble.

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