Journalists from several media houses attacked by Sabarimala protesters
18 October, 2018, 07:27 | Author: Ted Wilson
In the latest turn of events, two women journalists - one from The News Minute and the other from Republic TV - were attacked by anti-women protesters when they had gone to cover the agitations near Sabarimala temple. Incensed over Kerala's Left Front government's decision not to file a review plea against the Supreme Court verdict, protesters pelted police with stones and the latter hit right back with vengeance wielding batons with telling effect, leaving many fallen and writhing in pain on the road.
Biju S. Pillai, a local man in his 30s, was one of those opposed to the court ruling, telling AFP that he returned from working in Dubai to "protect the sanctity of the temple" with his mother and young son.
But some reporters said Kerala's police failed to ensure the safety of journalists and female devotees seeking to enter the temple.
P.K. Sanjeev, Dharma Sena, one of the main groups organizing the protests, said they were happy women had been prevented from entering. The operators of a temple in the northwestern state of Rajasthan believe the Hindu god Kartikeya curses women who enter the temple, instead of blessing them. Easwar, who was kept at the Pamba police station, said Ayyappa devotees only wanted their right under Article 25 of the constitution that provided for freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion to be protected.
Television video showed the protesters turning violent and attacking the cars and vans of some female reporters and TV crew members some distance from the temple. A mob reportedly surrounded her vehicle and shouted loudly at her, making intimidating gestures, besides banging on the auto from all sides. "We want to save our traditions". She is now returning to the base camp at Pampa. "Ayyappa needs to be respected".
Two years ago, activists successfully campaigned to end a ban on women entering the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra state.
In a tweet, Republic stated, "Mob of 100 smash vehicle, attack Republic TV's South India bureau chief Pooja Prasanna".
Violence broke out just hours before the temple's official opening for the monthly pooja after the women protesters had ended their sit-in and vacated the area by 3 p.m.
Temple management and the protesters argue that the celibate nature of the temple's presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is protected by India's Constitution.
He claimed to have the support of several "scientists" that concurred with the view that the "positive energy" in a temple can be polluted by the entry of menstruating women.
Hard-line Hindu groups have threatened to commit mass suicide to prevent women from entering in a cultural battle between the Supreme Court, which recently delivered landmark judgments legalising gay sex and adultery, and traditional bodies that still hold sway in a deeply religious country.
Women were also permitted to enter Mumbai's Haji Ali Dargah mausoleum, a Muslim place of worship, after the Supreme Court scrapped a ban in 2016.
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