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In the event of the temple reopening for a day on a Monday, 5 November, the Sabarimala Karma Samiti, a group leading the protests against the entry of women into the temple, has drafted an open letter to all media houses requesting them to not depute women journalists to cover the protest. It argued that deploying women reporters, even if it is to do their jobs, would only “aggravate” the situation.
The letter, signed by the General Convener of the samiti, SJR Kumar, has been directed to the managing editor, chief editor or editor of the media house. The letter reads:
"“The whole issue is about the adamant stand of the State Government in forcibly bringing in young women aged between 10 and 50 years which is against the age-old traditions and customs of the Sabarimala Temple. Even the entry of women journalists from media belonging to this age group as part of their job is also likely to aggravate the situation.”"
“Therefore, we humbly request you to take a sympathetic approach to the feelings and aspirations of crores of devotees and kindly refrain from deputing women journalists of the above-mentioned age group to Sabarimala,” the letter said.
Accusing the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government (which has supported the SC verdict) of using brute force to hastily enforce the judgement before the top court can hear review and writ petitions on 13 November, the letter stated that the devotees are “left with no choice but to continue their peaceful agitations.”
On 17 and 18 October, when the temple reopened for the first time since the judgement lifting the ban was passed, protests led by right-wing groups broke out in Sabarimala. Many men and women heckled, threatened and even beat up several women, both devotees and journalists, who had arrived at Pamba and Nilakkal.
Women suspected to be between the ages of 10 and 50 were pulled out from KSRTC buses and asked to leave the place. Women journalists were also asked to leave and abused by groups of protesters, who assaulted them and even inflicted damage to their property.
As for those women who attempted to go to the temple with police protection, too, were harassed, abused and targeted for attempting to do so. Their houses, too, were attacked.
The government has recorded 536-plus cases and arrested 3,719 suspects for engaging in violent protests at Pamba and Nilakkal. Only 100 are still in jail while the rest have been remanded or have managed to get bail.
The letter also read that the devotees from all denominations in Kerala, other states and even from abroad will stage a continuous and unabated “agitation” against the verdict, which, it claims, goes against the wishes of a large section of devotees.
(This story has been republished in an arrangement with The News Minute)
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