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Woman held up at Sabarimala entrance, allowed in after proving she is 52

Woman held up at Sabarimala entrance, allowed in after proving she is 52

Pamba: High drama unfolded outside Sabarimala temple on Saturday when a woman from Tamil Nadu was stopped from entering the temple by the devotees who thought she was under 50.

As Latha from Tiruchirappalli was trekking up the hill, several people swarmed her asking her age. Alarmed she approached the police who accompanied her to the temple.

She was allowed to walk up the 18 golden steps that lead to the shrine of Lord Ayyappa only after showing her identity paper with her date of birth mentioned on it. Latha had come with her husband and son.

Hundreds of policemen have been deployed at the base camps near the Sabarimala temple and an equal number of protesting devotees are lying in wait to prevent women of menstruating age from entering the shrine to Lord Ayyappa.

Today is the fourth day since the temple was opened after the Supreme Court last month overturned a centuries-old ban on women between 10 and 50 years entering Sabarimala.

No woman below 50 has made it to Sabarimala temple; none has turned up at the base camp so far today.

On Friday, two under-50 women started their trek but had to turn back 500 metres from the 18 golden steps at Sabarimala temple. The temple's priests also threatened to close the shrine if the two women somehow managed to enter the compound.

A third woman who did not ask for police protection did not even start the climb and went back.

A court today denied bail to activist Rahul Easwar, who was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly attacking some women at the Nilakkal base camp. He has denied the allegations. The next hearing is on October 22.

Women reporters were attacked, their vehicles vandalised and stones were thrown at them on Wednesday when the temple reopened. A day later two reporters of The New York Times were forced to turn back from the 5-km trek to the temple.

Kerala Inspector General S Sreejith, who on Friday led the police team that formed a protective ring around the two women, Hyderabad journalist Kavitha Thakkal and Kochi resident Rehana Fatima, said the police will provide all the protection devotees need to trek up to the temple. "... But darshan is something which can be done with consent of the priest. We will give them whatever protection they want," Sreejith said.

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