Tensions are simmering at Pamba in Kerala as six women arrived at the town in an attempt to enter the hill-shrine of Sabarimala, even as anti-women-entry protesters gathered to stop them. A group of 11 women, including 5 who came along to give the others moral support as they attempt to climb the 18 sacred steps, assembled at Pamba at 4 am on Sunday amidst high security.
The 11 women belong to Manithi, a Chennai-based all-women group, which decided to attempt entry despite the threats and violence faced by women devotees and journalists over the last couple of months. According to the group, all the women who are attempting to enter the shrine - Selvi, Muthulekshmi, Karppakam, Eshwari, Sreedevi and Kala - have followed the required fasts and rituals in the run up to the pilgrimage. Manithi was formed in Chennai by a group of women professionals who came together after a young woman named Jisha was brutally murdered in Kerala and the incident shook up the state.
The initial plan was for the women to meet at the Kottayam railway station after arriving there from different locations. But after the media reported on their plans, protests groups rushed to the railway station to prevent them from stepping out of the railway station. Learning about the protests there, they were advised to change their route and go directly to Pamba through Idukki. Around 4am on Sunday, the women reached Pamba.
The police are expecting more women to land at Pamba. Speaking to TNM, DySP Sreekumar said, "The information we got is that a Tamil Nadu-based group, and women coming from different places would reach Kottayam and head to Pamba. They would reach Kottayam through different means. But then the main group headed by Selvi went by road to Pamba. We are waiting to see if others may still reach Kottayam and to give them protection in case there is an attack by opposers. When the morning Chennai mail came, a group of protestors had headed to the station but they were stopped at Logos junction."
The usual practice is that when devotees reach Pamba, considered a base camp before the trek up to the hill-shrine, their Irumudikettu is filled by an elder person. When the women reached Pamba, no one was reportedly ready to fill their Irumudikettu. Finally, it was filled, but a huge number of protestors arrived to stop them.
Even as the protesters at Pamba speak to the police, Rahul Easwar tweeted stating the police will be requested to stop the â€śYoung Feminists from intruding the templeâ€ť. On bail now, Easwar has been barred by the court from entering Pamba.
Spoke to Devasom President Padmakumar sir. Requested to give instruction to police to stop Young Feminists from intruding into Temple.
Devasom Board's "time seeking petition" is in Supreme Court
If Police not pointing this out, it is contempt of Supreme Court. #SaveSabarimala https://t.co/jaNyR1EIYRâ€” Rahul Easwar (@RahulEaswar) December 22, 2018
Rahul also warned that more people from across the state are coming to Pamba to prevent the women from entering the shrine.
Happy & proud to see @pratheesh_ahp and AHP resisting. Sheer bravery.â€” Rahul Easwar (@RahulEaswar) December 23, 2018
Stay on. More time needed for all devotees to mobilise and organise .
Hold on for 2 more hours. More reinforcement will be reaching pampa from both Sannidhanam side and Nilakkal side.
Earlier, the Hindu Aikya Vedi, the right-wing group led by controversial leader KP Sasikala, had declared that they will block the women trying to enter the shrine.