Police were deployed in large numbers around an ancient temple, Sabarimala Temple, in Southern India on Wednesday, as it opened doors to women after the ban had been overturned.
The Sabarimala Temple is located on a forested hill-top in Kerala state, opened to devotees only for certain days of the month.
Female devotees and female journalists were being stopped by groups of protesters and members of Hindu hard-line groups, forcing them to turn back from the base camp where pilgrims trek up to the temple, the NDTV news channel reported.
A family, including a woman and children, was escorted for some distance by police but decided to turn back after flowing aggressive protesters hurling abuse, NDTV also said.
At least, 500 police officers, including 100 women, had been posted at the base camp at Nilakkal, Inspector General of Police Manoj Abraham said.
“We are fully equipped to handle the situation,’’ Abraham said.
“Every devotee will be ensured safe passage. The law of the land will be enforced.’’
Eleven people have been detained for stopping female devotees and female journalists on Tuesday.
Women of reproductive age, roughly 10 to 50, were banned for centuries from entering the inner sanctum of the Sabarimala Temple.
This is based on the fact that their presence would threaten the celibacy of the temple deity Lord Ayappa.
India’s Supreme Court on September 28 ruled that this practice by the temple authorities was unconstitutional.
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