By SM.16 Nov, 2018
KOCHI: A large number of protesters gathered outside the Kochi airport as activist Trupti Desai landed at 4:30 this morning to carry out her plan to enter the Sabarimala temple, on a day the shrine reopens for devotees. The protesters say they won"t allow her and her colleagues, reportedly six of them, to step out of the airport.
Taxi drivers at the airport said they will not take Desai and her colleagues to their destination.
The Pune-based activist had written to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state police chief about her plans to visit the shrine, seeking police protection during her visit to the state.
The protesters comprising devotees and BJP workers assembled early today outside the airport and stated shouting slogans.
The police reached there in large numbers to control the situation. Desai said she won"t return without visiting the temple.
The shrine to Lord Ayyappa will reopen at 5 pm today for the two-month-long puja.
In 2016, Desai had led a group of women activists to Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra that ended a 60-year tradition of women not being allowed to enter the shrine. Her movement inspired similar campaigns demanding entry for women in temples where they had been banned.
After the Supreme Court"s September order, allowing women of menstruating age to enter the temple, a number of women have attempted to enter the shrine but couldn"t due to violent protests by devotees who believe a change in the tradition would be an insult to Lord Ayyappa, a celibate god.
The top court on Wednesday refused to put on hold its order ending a ban on women of menstrual age entering the temple.
The Kerala government called an all-party meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue, but the Congress and the BJP walked out.