‘NY Times scribe was not forced to return from Sabarimala’

Pathanamthitta (Kerala) [India], Oct 18 (ANI): Thiruvananthapuram Inspector General of Police (IGP) Manoj Abraham on Thursday rebutted reports that Suhasini Raj, who is reportedly a New York Times journalist, was forced to return midway from Kerala's Sabarimala Temple. In response to questions pertaining to Raj's forced return, Abraham told ANI that she was "not forced to go back, she went back". There are two versions to her retreat. Media reports suggest that Raj, along with a colleague, was forced to return on Thursday morning after crossing the Pamba gateway, allegedly by the protestors as they turned violent. However, the police claim that she was not forced but returned on her own. The Thiruvananthapuram IGP's comments come in the wake of the heightened incidents of violence and protests against the Supreme Court's verdict on September 28, allowing women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayappa shrine. Traditionally, women of menstruating age were barred from entering the temple. Places around the temple such as Pamba, Nilakkal, Sannidhanam and Elavungal have witnessed the majority of the violent protests since the doors of the shrine reopened on Wednesday. Protestors allegedly vandalised a bus carrying journalists and other passengers at Laka near the Nilakkal base camp. The police lathi-charged the protestors as they resorted to stone -pelting. Elderly women were seen entering the Lord Ayyappa temple on Wednesday evening but women between 10 to 50 years of age refrained from visiting the shrine for the sake of their own safety. Elaborating on the security measures being deployed, Abraham said, "We will be giving protection to everybody who is trying to go up (the hill to the temple). That is our job, to give protection and security to all pilgrims. We will put more manpower and secure all routes." Owing to the protests and violence, Section 144 (prohibiting assembly of more than four people) has been imposed in Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal and Elavungal.
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