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Activist Trupti Desai who fought for women’s right to enter temples in Maharashtra and other places and who has vowed to pray at the Sabarimala temple arrived in Kerala but remained stuck at the Cochin international  airport terminal as protestors remained adamant that they would not allow her.

She along with other activists reached Kochi at 4.30 am on Friday but was unable to leave due to the growing number of protesters gathered outside the airport chanting Ayyappa slogans. The taxis she’d booked also refused to transport her, out of fear of being attacked by protesters. Addressing the media, she said she was happy that the police had been deployed in full strength. “We have been asked to wait because of a possible law and order situation. We will leave when situation calms down.” she said. She reiterated that she will not leave Kerala until she visits the temple and offers prayers. She said she had been promised protection.

But police say she will be given protection as and when she moves out of the airport to go to the temple, for which she will have to arrange her own vehicle. Unfortunately for one, nobody is ready to transport her group for fear of being attacked. Amid unrelenting protests by devotees and political workers against any change in the tradition of not allowing women of menstruating age from visiting the temple, the government has made massive security arrangements. Over 15,000 policemen are posted in and around Sabarimala and teams of commandos and disaster response personnel are on standby.

Over 49 review petitions were filed against the Supreme Court’s September 28 verdict allowing women of all ages entry into Sabarimala. The court has agreed to hear the petitions in open court on January 22. However, the earlier verdict, the court has stated, will not be stayed. The temple opened today for a two month long festival period.

—India Legal Bureau

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