Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Beaten, hair pulled: India Today reporter suffers horrifying attack by Sabarimala protesters

Beaten, hair pulled: India Today reporter suffers horrifying attack by Sabarimala protesters

Earlier, police chased away a group of protesters at Nilackal who were stopping and checking vehicles to see if they had women in the 10-50 age group.

Kerala is witnessing some tense moments as Sabarimala base camps in Nilakkal and Pamba turns into battlegrounds between women devotees who seek entry and angry protesters who are adamant to not allow women.

On Wednesday, the Hindu shrine will open its gates for the first time since 28 September, after the supreme court struck down an entry ban on women of menstruating age. Last month, the Supreme Court had allowed the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 to the Sabarimala temple, a decision that has led to widespread protests in the state.

Unfazed by the unfolding violence, Madhavi, a gutsy woman from Andhra Pradesh in her 40s, tried to climb the Sabarimala hills to reach the Lord Ayyappa temple but was forced to return to Pamba, menaced by agitated male devotees. He is kept at Pamba police station.

I can predict what is going on there, I think it is intentional, it's dirty politics they (protesters) are playing. Acting tough, the police, deployed in large numbers in Nilackal, some 20 kms away from the Sabarimala hilltop, also removed a makeshift shelter erected by a protesting group Sabarimala Achara Samrakshana Samiti.

The scenes are in stark contrast to the assurances of the state. Three female police personnel were stopped by Easwar and his supporters at Pamba.

Journalists of many media organisations, including NDTV, The News Minute, Republic TV, and India Today were heckled and their vehicles were vandalised.

One man appeared to threaten to smash the camera filming her with a rock.

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As the protesters resorted to violence, Kerala Police baton chargeed them at Nilakkal. Libi C.S., a young journalist who is the editor of a news website Newsgil, had in a Facebook post on Wednesday announced that she was likely to travel to Sabarimala.

Special security arrangements and patrolling have been put in place in various locations including Pamba, Nilakkal, Erumeli, Vandiperiyar en route to the Sabarimala temple, located in the central district of Pathanamthitta.

The police later took them to safety.

Congress leader and Pathanamthitta legislator Anto Antony condemnded the attacks against mediapersons.

The former Travancore Devaswom Board president and the wife of Kandararu Maheshwararu Tantri were taken into police custody at Pamba for protesting against the Supreme Court verdict and 50 people were booked for trying to attack a journalist. Those who are protesting there, are BJP and RSS people.

The Kerala government has deployed tight security in and around Nilakkal, the main gateway to Sabarimala temple, as protesters continue to oppose women's entry into the revered hill shrine, which is set to open its doors for all devotees this evening.

Television pictures showed men surrounding and hitting a vehicle that appeared to contain a woman journalist, while another reporter was shown being encircled and shouted at while on air.

From Thursday onwards, regular poojas and other rituals like "Ganapathi pooja" and 'neyyabhishekam' would be held, according to the schedule.

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