Trupti Desai to return at 9:30 pm

Sabarimala temple A rallying point for the Hindu far right

Kochi: The Kerala high court Friday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of activist Rehana Fathima, who had made an attempt to enter the Sabarimala temple when the shrine was opened for monthly puja in October after the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women in the age group of 10 and 50 into the Lord Ayyappa shrine. Amid unrelenting protests by devotees and political workers, over 15,000 policemen are posted in and around Sabarimala and teams of commandos and disaster response personnel are on standby.

This is the third time the shrine is opening since the apex court lifted the age-old ban on entry of women in 10-50 age group, though no girl or woman pilgrim in the age group could offer prayers so far following stiff resistance by devotees and activists, opposing any change in the temple traditions. NDTV delivers reliable information across all platforms: TV, Internet and Mobile.

"We have come here to protest".

"Police told us that they'll provide us security the next time we visit".

After a tense stand-off that lasted over 14 hours at the Cochin global airport late into Friday evening, gender equality activist Trupti Desai and six other women chose to return without offering prayers at the Sabarimala temple in the face of unrelenting protest that gained in intensity over the hours.

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The decision for sending the women back crystallised around 6.30 p.m. following sustained efforts by the police, airport, revenue, and Central Industrial Security Force authorities to convince Ms. Desai of the seemingly insurmountable odds against exiting the airport and continuing the onward journey to Sabarimala.

The Board that had earlier refused to file a review petition in the top court, however, softened its position after a meeting of its members to take stock of the situation arising out of the court order. She won't be allowed to step inside the temple before that.

The group was blocked from leaving for Sabarimala from Nedumbassery Airport in Kochi, as a large number of devotees staged a "nama japam " protest clapping hands and chanting "Swamiye Ayyappa".

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. Desai claimed that taxi drivers at the airport have been warned not to offer her a ride. She informed the plice that she is ready to go back by the 9 30 pm flight.

The Pune-based activist said police have asked her to return and she would announce her decision later.

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