An angry mob protesting against the entry of women into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple went on a rampage and attacked women and journalists covering the protests.
Republic TV’s south India bureau chief Pooja Prasanna was attacked by protesters demonstrating against the entry of women into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. The incident took place in the town of Nilakkal located in Pathanamthitta district while the TV crew was on its way to the Pamba base camp. This incident took place despite police protection present at the spot.
Visuals put out by the news channel show around 50 to 60 people surrounding the car the reporter and the channel crew was travelling in, chanting Ayyappa slogans. The mob shortly turns violent, aggressively punching and banging the car’s windshields and windows, in an attempt to break them. The car’s rear bumper and rear windshield were both broken in the attack.
The channel also reported that the journalist and the rest of the camera crew were attacked and slapped by the mob after they stepped out of the car. The crew’s equipment was also snatched by the protesters.
Visuals also show Pooja Prasanna confronting protesters, asking them why she and her crew were not being allowed. She was seen confronting the police after the attack as well.
Speaking to Republic, Pooja stated that many other journalists were also attacked by the protesters.
The News Minute's Saritha Balan was violently attacked in Nilakkal. CNN-News18's crew and reporter Radhika Ramaswamy surrounded by angry protesters, who vandalised the vehicle. The mob repeatedly beat against the windows as Radhika and her crew were trapped inside.
A bus from Pathanamthitta was attacked by the protesting mob. India Today reporter Mausami Singh, who was also in the bus said that her hair had been pulled and that she was she was slapped. Reporter Live's crew covering the Sabarimala protests in Nilakkal was also attacked. Reporter Rajeesh's arm was fractured, and the cameraperson sustained injuries. The mob surrounded the car in which the crew was present, attacked the vehicle with sticks; vandalised the car and destroyed the camera and other equipment.
Tension had been mounted in the district of Pathanamthitta, especially in the areas of Nilakkal and Pamba.
Hundreds of devotees protesting against the verdict had set up a protest tent in Nilakkal. They had stopped vehicles and did not allow those with ‘young’ women to pass by. In some cases, women were made to disembark forcefully.
Nilakkal, which is 20 kilometres from Sabarimala, is the only route to reach Pamba, a reason why protest groups camped here to ensure that women did not enter. The police removed the tent set up by the devotee group under the name of Sabarimala Samrakshana Samiti. Another protest tent set up by the Congress at Nilakkal has been left as it is.
At around 3:30 am on Wednesday, there was a clash between the police and devotees groups - who were blocking all vehicles coming through that route.
Earlier on Tuesday, the police arrested 3 protestors who were blocking and checking vehicles going to Pamba. After loud sloganeering against the police, a few of the protestors were removed from the venue.
Following this, the tent was removed following an order from ADGP Ananthakrishnan. Two battalions of women police force, too, have been stationed in Nilakkal and Pamba. No private vehicles are being allowed till Pamba. However, KSRTC buses are being allowed.
The temple gates will open for the Thalumasa Pooja this evening and police forces stationed at the site will allow pilgrims to visit the Sannithanam from Pamba in the afternoon.