Devotees throng Indian flashpoint temple, but no women

Sabarimala row LIVE updates: Lord Ayyappa shrine reopens for 62 days, Trupti Desai to return to Pune amid protests

Desai had earlier said that she would not leave Kerala until she visits Sabarimala Temple, and had been promised that she would get police protection. Police have told us that they'll provide us security the next time we visit.

On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine, but a section of devotees is protesting the decision.

On her arrival, the protestors blocked the airport gate, not allowing her to come out.

She has now arrived at the Cochin International Airport and has been inside since the morning, as the protesters have gathered outside the premises of the airport and are ready to attack the slain activist.

Among the several hundred thousand people who have registered to pray at the temple over the coming weeks are around 700 women, setting the stage for a major showdown.

On January 22 the Supreme Court will also hear challenges to its original September ruling, one of a series of recent liberal decisions including the decriminalisation of gay sex and of adultery.

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Nedumbassery airport authorities had held a discussion with the district collector as the protests affected the smooth functioning of the airport.

After being stranded in the Cochin airport for 11 hours, gender equality activist Trupti Desai chose to fly back to Mumbai after Lord Ayyappa devotees staged massive protests, barring her from leaving Cochin International Airport.

The team had to wait for the entire day inside the airport as no cab driver agreed to take her team to their destination - Sabarimala temple. "This time we went there after announcing, but the next time we won't announce that we're visiting, but will follow guerrilla tactics", she told ANI.

Desai had earlier spearheaded the campaign to allow entry of women to various religious places, including Shani Shingnapur temple, the Haji Ali Dargah, the Mahalakshmi Temple and the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple. She also could not hire a taxi to take her from the airport to the shrine. In the wake of protests carried out against her visit at the Kochi airport, the activist said that Kerala police advised her to go back to Pune.

The hillside temple, nestled in a forest in the Western Ghats mountain range, will reopen at 5 p.m. (1130 GMT) on Friday for more than two months, with a three-day break in December.

The activist further said the Kerala government had failed in providing security to women wanting to visit Sabarimala.

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