Pampa: Women aged below 50 failed to enter Sabarimala hill shrine for the third day on Friday, even as the Travancore Devaswom Board decided to apprise the Supreme Court of the developments following its verdict lifting the ban.
Two young women, Kavitha Jakkala, 24, a reporter with Telugu channel Mojo TV, and Rehna Fathima, a Kochi-based activist, trekked uphill with heavy police escort led by Inspector General S. Sreejith from Pampa at 6.30 am.
Both were wearing police riot gears, and they faced no attacks except for some isolated stone pelting.
When they reached the temple, protesters along with kids and priests staged a sit-in right in front of the Sannidhanam blocking them.
By 7.30 am, Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran got the information on their identity and asked state police chief Loknath Behera not to protect anyone trying to create provocations.
While the IG was negotiating with protesters, the tantri family declared that they would suspend the pujas and close down the sanctum sanctorum forcing the police, including black cats, to retreat.
Responding to reporters after their safe return to Pumpa, the women expressed deep despair.
While Ms Jakkala said she would come back if she gets a chance to enter, Ms Fathima responded that she came to Sabarimala with Irumudikettu and strict penance as a devotee.
The IG said the situation on the route from Pampa to Sannidhanam was under their control.
"Our duty is to uphold the law. If anybody wants protection, we are ready to provide," he told DC.
Ms Jakkala had reached Pamba on Thursday night and insisted on trekking. But the police promised to take her in the morning.
She came in a white Omni van of Asianet Kannada Channel at Nilakkal in the afternoon.
When she returned to Pampa after the failed attempt, she was in casuals while Fathima was in traditional Ayyappa devotee cloth.
Three other crew members of Mojo TV, including reporter Balakrishna and cameraperson Narasimha, were on the team.
Though another woman, Mary Sweety, 46, approached cops for protection to trek after them, they refused.
New York Times journalist Suhasini Raj was the first female of the previously restricted age between 10 and 50 to try to trek to Sabarimala the previous day.
Meanwhile, the police arrested seven Yuva Morcha activists from Pampa for breaching prohibitory orders.
The men with Irumudikettu came in and sat before Pandalam Raja Mandapam chanting Ayyappa slogans for 15 minutes.
Though police asked them to withdraw, they refused to budge.
They were later released on bail....