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Sabarimala row: The women who kept Kerala cops on tenterhooks for hours

Two women made it till the Sabarimala’s ‘golden steps’ after moving in a three-ring police protection guard and through a mass of angry protesters and devotees.

india Updated: Oct 19, 2018 15:50 IST
HT correspondent
HT correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sabarimala row,Sabarimala temple,Sabarimala
Mary Sweety, Rehana Fathima and Kavitha Jakkal attempted to enter Sabrimala temple on Friday morning. Rehana and Kavitha were the closest any menstruating women have gotten to entering the temple.(PTI/ANI)

On day three of the reopening of Sabarimala temple after the Supreme Court order allowing menstruating women to enter the shrine, three women kept the police and the administration on tenterhooks on Friday.

Two of them – controversial activist Rehana Fathima and journalist Kavitha Jakkal – managed to reach within 50 metres of the temple and the third woman Mary Sweety was stopped at Pamba, the entry point 5 kms away.

It was around 6:45am when Rehana and Kavitha, accompanied by more than 100 policemen led by Inspector General of Police S Sreejith, started their two-hour climb. Twenty led them from the front while around 80 officers backed them; the entourage managed to reach right up to the ‘Patthinettam padi’ – the 18 golden steps that lead up to the sanctum sanctorum.

At this point, police and protesters got in a standoff over letting the woman continue forward. Almost two hours later, Rehana and Kavitha were forced to back off as devotees and priests refused to comply with the Supreme Court order.

Rehana, 31, hit the headlines some time ago when she posed bare-breasted with watermelons to register her protest against the sexist and derogatory remarks against women by a professor in Kozhikode. She was also associated with the ‘Kiss of Love’ movement, a non-violent protest against moral policing. According to news agency PTI, she works with the BSNL in Kochi.

Rehana claimed she had observed the 41 day-fast Ayyappa devotees usually do before undertaking the pilgrimage.

After she tried to enter the Sabarimala temple, her house in Kochi was vandalised by two unidentified people.

Kavitha Jakkal, in full riot gear, accompanied Rehana during the trek but also retreated as priests threatened to close the temple. She works for the Hyderabad-based Mojo TV and is 24-years-old, TV reports said.

On her way back, Kavitha told reporters that she is “very proud” for attempting to go to Sabarimala temple.

Sweety, 46, from Kazhakoottam near Thiruvananthapuram, was turned away within minutes of Rehana and Kavitha beginning their trek back. She said she did not seek any police protection to complete the temple visit.

“I go to church, mosques and temples. And I want to see Lord Ayyappa,” she told reporters. Police however escorted her to the control room where they reportedly told her they couldn’t provide protection for her trek up to the temple.

Sweety claimed she was mediaperson based in the Gulf.

First Published: Oct 19, 2018 15:49 IST