Young woman enters Sabarimala; Returns due to protests

Hindu devotees and activists gather at a Shiva temple during a protests

Police detain people protesting agianst the entry of women at Pampa.

Police said they were pulling over traffic to check for women of menstrual age and had forced even a handful of female journalists off a bus and prevented them from proceeding to the temple to report on events.

The devotees, most of whom were men, earlier surrounded and intimidated female journalists, including one from AFP. A journalist is reported to have been injured.

Tensions are high in Kerala as Sabarimala temple gates were opened today to all devotees, including women, for the first time since a Supreme Court order overturned a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age -between 10 and 50 - from visiting the shrine.

Kerala's state government said it would enforce the court ruling, deploying 500 extra police to ensure free access to the remote complex reached by an uphill trek that takes several hours. Libi C.S., a young journalist who is the editor of a news website Newsgil, had in a Facebook post on Wednesday announced that she was likely to travel to Sabarimala.

A police officer hurls back a stone at a protester during clashes outside the Sabarimala temple.

Kerala's chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said: "At one point, women had no right to cover their breasts in Kerala and the lower castes were made to stand far away from Brahmins".

At Nilakkal, the last stop for buses carrying pilgrims, protesters had been combing the buses and intimidating women.

A woman attempted to hang herself from a tree in Thiruvananthapuram in protest against the Supreme Court's verdict over the entry of women of all age group into the temple.

Hardline Hindu groups have threatened to commit mass suicide to prevent women from entering in a cultural battle between the Supreme Court, that has recently delivered landmark judgments legalizing gay sex and adultery, and traditional bodies that still hold sway in a deeply religious country. Police said that every devotee will have straight passage to Sabarimala.

Protesters smashed the windows of a vehicle carrying a female journalist from CNN NEWS 18, footage from the channel showed. Easwar says to ANI, "I didn't hit any woman there". As soon as she arrived at the bus terminal, police formed a protective ring around her and escorted her to a safe place.

Kerala's Communist government, that runs the state along secular lines, has pledged to uphold the court ruling. We had many such wrongful traditions.

"There is a very strong police presence in and around Sabarimala", Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra told the media here as a police force of over 1,000 personnel took position in Nilackal and Pamba - the foothills of the famed Lord Ayyappa temple.

Some conservatives have also criticised the protests.

Slogans were raised as women marched in protest at Nilakkal, the main gateway to Sabarimala.

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