Angry pilgrims protest at Erumeli; Allow us to go, they plead

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Nilackal: As the Lord Ayyappa temple is all set to open Monday evening for a monthly puja, a thick security cover is in place in and around Sabarimala, which had witnessed protests last month after the Supreme Court permitted women of menstrual age group to offer prayers at the shrine.

Devotees, who arrived at Erumeli since Sunday evening, protested this morning against being allowed to leave for Pamba and Sannidhanam.

They blocked traffic chanting 'Ayyappa Sarnam'.

"We have been waiting since last evening. We were told that we would be allowed to leave at 6 am. Now, they are telling us that KSRTC buses will be allowed to leave only by 12 pm. We have come to offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa. Please allow us to go," an angry devotee said.

If private vehicles are not being allowed, they should be taken in the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses to Pamba, the devotee said.

Media personnel have also not been allowed to leave Nilackal for Pamba and 'Sannidhanam' (temple complex) from the base camp here till 9 am this morning.

Director General of Police (DGP) Loknath Behara has said no restriction of any sort has been imposed on media persons.

"To ensure necessary protection to the media, we are not allowing them now. As soon as security arrangements are complete, media will be allowed in Sabarimala and nearby places," he said.

At least 15 women police personnel, who are over 50 years of age, have been deployed at 'Sannidhanam' (temple complex).

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