Kochi: Women’s rights activist Trupti Desai (R) and other women pilgrims wait at the Cochin International Airport after protesters blocked the arrival gate of the domestic terminal, in Kochi (Source: PTI)

Activist Trupti Desai Aborts Sabarimala Trip

Activist Trupti Desai on Friday aborted her attempt to proceed to Sabarimala shrine as she was prevented from leaving the airport by devotees and others opposing entry of menstrual age women into the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

Desai, who arrived at Kochi in the early hours with young six women colleagues, on Friday night announced she would return as police informed her that there would be law and order problem if she visited the shrine. But she vowed to come back to Kerala soon.

“We will soon come back to Kerala to visit Sabarimala but we will not declare it in advance and come,” the Bhoomatha Brigade leader she told reporters at the airport after failing to proceed to the temple, which opened Friday evening for two-month long pilgrim season.

According to airport sources, Desai and her colleagues have booked tickets on a Mumbai flight scheduled for departure later Friday night. Announcing her visit to Sabarimala, the activist had earlier sent an email to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking security, saying she fears threat to her life.

Desai, who had earlier said she would not return without entering the temple, failed to even come out of the airport following the vociferous protest by devotees and members of Bharatiya Janata Party and other Hindu outfits.

The devotees alleged Desai and her team came here to violate the centuries-old custom of the temple that prevented entry of women and girls in the age group of 10 and 50. BJP state General Secretary K Surendran said it was a victory of devotees of Lord Ayyappa.

Desai, who spearheaded the campaign to allow entry of women into various religious places, including Shani Shingnapur temple, the Haji Ali Dargah and the Mahalakshmi Temple, said she was fighting for equality. “In this 21st century women still face discrimination in our country.”

The Sabarimala temple opened Friday, the third time after the Supreme Court on Sept. 28 allowed women of menstrual age to offer prayers there.