With only a day left for the all women group from Tamil Nadu to climb the hill shrine of Sabarimala on December 23, right wing groups in Kerala are preparing themselves to surround and block the 30 women when they reach the state.
Hindu Aikya Vedi, a right wing group led by controversial leader KP Sasikala has declared that they will block the women when they reach Kottayam- a district neighbouring Pathanamthitta where the temple is situated.
“For the last two days, devotees have been very careful. Wherever these ladies land they will be surrounded by the devotees. It will be just like how Trupti Desai was stranded at airport,” Biju ES, stage General Secretary of HAV told TNM, referring to the right-to-pray activist who was forced to go back after being blocked by devotees at the airport.
Biju is firm in his belief that Manithi, the all women’s group, who has planned the Sabarimala trip is backed by fringe elements. He says they are coming to Sabarimala with the sole intention of breaking the custom.
“Just like Maoists and Naxals, this group has links with extreme elements of the society. The women in their press conference in Chennai have said that they will not follow the 41 day fast, but will make the trip after fasting for 5 days. They are intent on breaking the tradition of Sabarimala,” he said.
Manithi was in fact formed in Chennai by a group of women professionals who came together after a young woman Jisha was brutally murdered in Kerala. The group had told TNM that only 10% of the women who would be in team going to Sabarimala are activists, rest are devotees. According to Selvi from Manithi,all the women were doing fasting and penance according to their own wishes
HAV hopes that the Tamil Nadu government will not lend support to the women who have made it clear that they have no change of plans and intend to visit Sabarimala on Sunday.
“We hear that the Tamil Nadu government might stop them at the Kerala- TN border. We have also announced that we will stop the women and won’t allow them to proceed after Kottayam,” Biju added.
Meanwhile, Selvi, the lawyer and activist who has been communicating to the press on behalf of the 30-member women's group, confirmed that plans to visit the hill shrine on December 23 remain unchanged.
Speaking to TNM she said, “We have taken note of the threats that have come our way. No one has contacted us directly to issue threats but we are aware of what people like Sasikala and Hindu Aikya Vedi have been saying. Our plans are on as announced," she says.
Last month, Kochi airport witnessed high drama when Right to Pray activist Trupti landed in Kerala with six other women, announcing that she would attempt the climb to Sabarimala. However, protesters against women’s entry into the temple surrounded the airport and blocked her from coming out. After a 15-hour-long wait at the airport, the Bhumata Brigade chief had to return. Trupti had then addressed the media at the airport and declared that she was leaving but that she will be back with ‘guerilla tactics’ to try and enter Sabarimala.
(With inputs from Sanyukta Dharmadhikari)