Protesters in India defy court ruling by preventing females from entering temple

Mob attempts to block first entry of women of menstruating age to sacred Hindu temple

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The small group of protesters ran away from the spot when the police initiated action in the early hours of Wednesday when they tried to block buses at the key entry point to the temple. The conversation began civilly, but as soon as she mentioned the Supreme Court verdict, the crowd started banging on her auto and demanding that she leave. They checked cars and buses, pulled out women and asked them to go back. Reporters of three national TV channels were assaulted and the vehicle carrying the crew of one of the channels was attacked.

Barring the Left government, the Congress, BJP and Hindu organisations are on a war path against the apex court ruling. "The government must immediately ensure safety of journalists and assure media that lives of reporters are not in danger".

The police also detained members of the Pandalam Royal and Sabarimala temple Tantri families, including women, taking part in a protest.

Protesters turned away at least two female devotees who tried to enter the shrine, maintaining a centuries-old tradition that women of menstruating age can not enter the temple because the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is celibate.

The Supreme Court had on September 28 passed a historic judgement lifting the ban on entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the temple, a verdict that was hailed by rights activists but opposed by traditionalists. "The government is trying to stifle a peaceful protest", said Eswar, the grandson of the main priest of Sabarimala. Thousands of people, many of them women, have marched in recent days against females being allowed to pray in the hilltop temple at Sabarimala in the southern state of Kerala.

Though Saritha S Balan was wearing a jeans and kurta and she wasn't looking like a devotee, she came under attack.

Koshy said she was "appalled" by that line of reasoning.

Two women devotees reach Sabarimala temple, sent back by protesters, reports NDTV. It is our job.

The protesters also include many women - they have participated in rallies, blocked roads and checked vehicles heading towards the temple to see if they contain women between 10 and 50.

"We don't mind not being allowed in". "The ban is not anti-women".

The protesting group of devotees had been staging a sit-in chanting Ayyappa mantra in the shelter in protest against the Supreme Court order permitting women of all age groups to enter the shrine.

Industries Minister and veteran CPI-M leader E.P.Jayarajan said that those opposing the entry of women to the temple will face the wrath of the Sabarimala Ayyappa.

TV footage showed conservative female devotees blocking roads to the temple and singing in support of the ban.

Surendran chose to remind the people of Kerala that the Indian Young Lawyers Association that moved the SC demanding right to worship for menstruating women in the temple comprised advocates belonging to the BJP and RSS.

Tensions may rise as more women are expected to attempt entry.

As angry protesters went after her, shouting and abusing, Madhavi chose to return. 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.

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