The doors to Sabarimala temple closed Monday night even as the Supreme Court order to allow women of all ages to enter its premises proved ineffective. Valiant attempts by around a dozen women to script history failed, as violent protesters forced them to retreat. Thousands of policemen and policewomen were deployed along the route to ensure safe passage of women. However, protesters stoned buses at several places on the way to the hilltop temple. Meanwhile, 19 petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a review of its order on Sabarimala. The top court will hear the petitions on November 13. Here is the timeline of the event.
October 21: Three women blocked by protesters when they were just half a kilometre away from the shrine. Two women had not sought police protection and turned back when they were issued threats by the protesters, while the third was heckled and forced to return after the protesters checked her ID card to verify if she was over 50 years of age.
October 20: Actor Rajinikanth says there should be no “interference” in temple traditions being followed for a long time, in his first response to the recent Supreme Court order. Kerala Dalit Mahila Federation leader SP Manju, 38, arrives in Pambha but decides against trekking amid heavy rainfall and inclement weather.
October 19: Kerala women’s rights activist Rehana Fathima and Hyderabad journalist Kavitha Jakkal, wearing helmets and khaki, manage to go up to Valiya Nadappandhal, the queue complex located a few metres away from the holy ‘pathinettam padi’, the 18 sacred steps, but not beyond.
October 18: A woman journalist from New York Times faced angry devotees who lay on her path at the halfway point at Marakootum and asked her to go over their bodies. Even the police appeared helpless as she retreated.
October 17: The temple opened its gates to devotees on Wednesday what followed next was a six-day standoff between protesters and police. The chief priest of Sabrimala Kandararu Maheshwararu Tantri, warns of violence if women of menstrual age are allowed to enter the shrine of celibate diety. Three woman journalist attacked by an angry mob who were on their way to report the protests over entry of women into the temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.
October 15: The Kerala unit of Shiv Sena threatened to stage mass suicides if women in 10-50 age group are allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Police registered a case against actor Kollam Thulasi for his statement at a public meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA campaign against the apex court ruling. He declared that ‘women coming to Sabarimala temple should be ripped in half,’ with one half thrown to Delhi and the other half to the Office of Chief Minister Vijayan.
September 28: The Supreme Court lifted the ban on entry of women of menstruating age at the hill-top shrine in Kerala. In a 4:1 verdict, the top court said that barring women into the temple is gender discrimination and the practice violates the rights of Hindu women.