Woman who prayed at Sabarimala attacked with pepper spray
Bindu Ammini, who was one of two women to offer prayers at Sabarimala temple in January, was attacked by a Hindu Helpline activist outside the Kochi Police Commissioner's office on Tuesday. Ammini was among a group of six women, including activist Trupti Desai, who planned to visit the shrine on Tuesday. A video of the incident shows a man attacking Ammini with pepper spray.
The group of women arrived in Kochi in the wee hours on Tuesday and reached the Commissioner's office to seek protection for visiting Sabarimala. Ammini stepped out of the office to collect some files from a car when a man, Srinath Padmanabhan, ambushed her, The News Minute reported. Visuals show Ammini shielding her face as a man attacks her with pepper spray.
Shocking visuals of pepper/ chilli spray being sprayed at Bindu Ammini outisde the commissioner office by one of the protesters . She has been moved to the hospital. Six other women including Trupti Desai inside the police commissioner's office. #Sabarimala #Kerala @ndtv pic.twitter.com/d24chgs8b3— Sneha Koshy (@SnehaMKoshy) November 26, 2019
Reportedly, a group of protestors had gathered outside the Commissioner's office after learning that Desai had arrived in Kochi with other women. Padmanabhan was among the protestors. Following the attack, the protestors clashed with Ammini and the police had to intervene. She was taken to the General Hospital in Ernakulam, and he was later arrested by Kochi Police.
To recall, earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard a batch of petitions challenging its 2018 verdict which lifted the ban on women of menstruating age (ages 10-50) entering Sabarimala temple, the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa. The court referred the case to a larger seven-judge bench, however, did not stay its 2018 verdict, i.e., the ban remains lifted until the court's further notice.
However, the Kerala government remained non-committal in offering women pilgrims protection to visit the shrine. Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran also noted that the Sabarimala temple is "no place for activism," adding that women would have to carry the court's order while visiting the shrine.
Notably, Ammini and Kanakadurga had successfully reached the Sabarimala shrine and offered prayers in January earlier this year. It was their second attempt. Meanwhile, Desai made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the shrine in November last year. She plans on offering prayers at Sabarimala on Wednesday as it marks the Constitution Day. "I'll leave Kerala only after offering prayers at the shrine," Desai said.
Many women have been stopped from entering the Lord Ayyappa shrine since its gates flung open for pilgrims for the two-month pilgrimage season on November 16. Last week, a 12-year-old girl was also stopped from offering prayers at the shrine.