"I will come back to enter Sabarimala for sure," she announced before entering the vehicle to the airport.

Activist Trupti Desai to leave Kerala as cops refuse security to visit Sabarimala temple
news Sabarimala Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - 21:03

The events that transpired in Kochi on Tuesday was redolent of what happened on November 16, 2018 — Maharashtra-based ‘Right To Pray’ activist Trupti Desai landed in Cochin Airport in the wee hours, stood her ground for 15 hours in the airport, determined to visit Sabarimala. Right outside the airport, an equally determined group of devotees and members of Hindu right-wing groups sat in protest. The Kerala police said they will give her security to visit the temple, provided she arranged for her own car and accommodation. Later, the cops convinced her that exiting the airport will only lead to a law and order situation. Trupti gave in and returned that night. 

A year later, on Tuesday, a similar scene played out outside the office of the Commissioner of Police in Kochi, Ernakulam district. Amidst heavy protests by right-wing groups, the police refused to provide Trupti protection, forcing her to return. Trupti and her friends are set to return by the 10.30 pm flight on Tuesday amidst police protection —  the only offer the Kerala police put forward. 

"We did not plan to come here secretly. We had sent an email to the Kerala Chief Minister and DGP, informing them about our visit. We even booked the tickets online to visit the temple. If there was any problem, why weren't we informed about it before we arrived here?" she asked, adding that she chose this day, as it was the Constitution day. 

"I will come back to enter Sabarimala for sure," she announced before entering the vehicle to the airport.

Even as her vehicle started moving, with police escort, protestors ran behind her car for some distance, tapping the car's window.

What transpired through the day 

Bumata Brigade’s Trupti arrived at the Kochi airport early morning on Tuesday to visit Sabarimala temple. A few reporters spotted her, and the word soon got out. By then, the driver of the taxi, in which Trupti and four other women were travelling, refused to take them any further and abandoned them. The five women along with Bindu Ammini, the woman who managed to enter Sabarimala temple and offer prayers earlier this year, reached the Commissioner’s office. 

Bindu was attacked with pepper spray by a member of ‘Hindu Helpline’. She was later taken to the General Hospital. Trupti and other women, meanwhile, were at the Commissioner’s office, seeking protection to visit the temple, even as they insisted that they would reach Pamba (in Sabarimala) on Tuesday itself. Outside the office, the crowd of protestors swelled up and slogans continued to fill the air. Traffic in the area was also partially affected. 

After many hours of discussion with the Additional Commissioner of Police, the officials declined their request and turned them away. 

Trupti told TNM that they were not allowed to leave the Commissioner’s office, and even locked the gates, as there was a threat to their lives. “Some officials from the Crime Branch came and told us that they would have let us go to Pamba, but there were groups of devotees at every corner of the streets, waiting to attack us,” she said, adding that the irrespective of the day they chose to go to Pamba, an attack was imminent. 

“They told us to return home,” she said. 

This time, Trupti, however, put forward one condition if she was being forced to leave — a written statement from the police, explaining why she will not be given police protection.

“They (the police) said they cannot give a written statement because the matter is sub-judice. But the court has not put a stay on the entry of women into Sabarimala. So, I think the court should intervene and clarify this,” she told TNM. 

On November 15, a day before the Sabarimala season commenced, the Kerala government announced that it will not provide police protection to any women between the age of 10 and 50 who wished to enter the temple. The state government declared its stand a day after the Supreme Court kept the Sabarimala review petitions pending and referred it to a seven-judge bench. 

Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Devaswom, had told the media that the women who wanted police protection to go to Sabarimala, should approach the court and reach the temple only with the court order. 

Condemning the attack against Bindu Ammini, she said, “The man should be put in prison and should not be released. Women cannot be attacked like this when all they want to do is to exercise their fundamental rights.”

Three different ways to become a TNM member - check them out now!.