Trupti returns home after 14-hour standoff

Sabarimala temple A rallying point for the Hindu far right

Hindu hardliners are opposing women entering the temple despite the Supreme Court orders

The Makaravilakku festival would be celebrated on 14 January after which the shrine will close on 20 January, marking the culmination of the pilgrim season, when laksh of devotees are expected to throng the shrine. Only reason we made a decision to go back is that the police said our visit would result in a law and order situation and incidents of violence.

Speaking about the episode at the Cochin Airport, Desai said, "Protesters were resorting to violence, to hooliganism, they should not have done that".

"We will move the Supreme court on Monday through advocate Chandra Uday Singh" TDB president A Padmakumar, told PTI.

The board's decision comes a day after the LDF government said that it was bound to implement the apex court order and rejected suggestions by opposition parties that it seek time from the court.

Pune: Social activist Trupti Desai, who was unable to exit the Cochin International Airport due to protests being carried out against her visit, seems undeterred in her aim to enter the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala. "She will have to step on our chests and walk over us if she wants to enter Sabarimala Temple", said Activist Rahul Easwar.

Desai said police had advised her group not to leave the airport because of safety concerns, but vowed not to abandon plans to enter Sabarimala, the hill temple about 155 km away that is at the center of the conflict, on Saturday.

She has now arrived at the Cochin International Airport and has been inside since the morning, as the protesters have gathered outside the premises of the airport and are ready to attack the slain activist. She added that the state government and the police should be responsible to escort them safely to the temple. The ban is practiced for ages, based on such a tradition, but was ruled as discriminatory by Supreme Court recently.

But with the government and TDB softening its posture there is relief all around. They need time to arrange facilities for women. Television visuals at 11 am showed Trupti Desai and the six women accompanying her sitting inside the airport and eating breakfast.

But when the temple reopened for several days last month, Hindu hardliners clashed with police, assaulted journalists and prevented the court order from being implemented.

When the temple opened for the second time on November 5 and 6 for the Chithira Avittom Pooja, the Pathanamthitta district collector in Kerala imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in Sabarimala and nearby areas. Despite heavy police deployment, protesters say they are determined to stop women from entering the shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.

The temple complex and nearby areas had witnessed widespread protests after the state government chose to implement the 28 September apex court verdict.

Despite tight security and restrictions, many protesters managed to sneak into the temple and were keeping a strict vigil on women in 10-50 age group. "People who are outside can come inside and attack us", she told Mint in a phone interview.

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