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Activist Trupti Desai, who wanted to enter Kerala's Sabarimala temple was blocked by hundreds of protesters at the Kochi airport since she landed at 4:30 am on Friday.
The protesters, who staunchly support the restrictions on women of menstrual age to enter the temple despite the Supreme Court ending the ban in a landmark order in September, said that they will not permit Trupti Desai and her six colleagues to step out of the airport. Taxi drivers say they will not take the visitors anywhere.
Kerala: Protesters gather outside Cochin International Airport. Trupti Desai, founder of Bhumata Brigade, has arrived at the airport from Pune. She had written to Kerala CM seeking security for her visit to #SabrimalaTemple on 17 November. pic.twitter.com/QbzdSZeyKa— ANI (@ANI) November 16, 2018
Hindu Aikya Vedi vice-president K Haridas said that they are ready to stay at the airport for 41 days but will not let Desai go on Sabarimala pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, despite threats, activist Trupti Desai refuses to back out.
Trupti Desai said, "Police tried to evacuate us from another gate but protesters were there as well. Protests being held here. Does this mean protesters are scared that we'll reach Sabarimala once we arrive in Nilakkal, or, are they trying to scare us? We won't return until the darshan."
The hilltop shrine will open at 5 pm today for a two-month-long puja in which lakhs of devotees and tourists are expected. This will be the third time the temple is opening since the Supreme Court on September 28 allowed women of all ages to enter the shrine.
Amid unrelenting protests by devotees and political workers against any change in the archaic tradition, the state's Left-led 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.
For the first time ever, pilgrims heading to the shrine in their private vehicles will need passes from the police, who are to take every detail of the visitors, their age and head-count.
After the Supreme Court's September order, a number of women attempted to enter the Sabarimala shrine but couldn't because of violent protests by devotees who said they would not allow any insult to Lord Ayyappa, a celibate god.
It is not the first time, in 2016, Ms Desai had led a group of women activists to the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra when it ended a 60-year-old ban on women. Her movement inspired similar campaigns involving temples that have been off-limits to women.