A Delhi-based female journalist. who managed to climb up the pathway to reach the famed Sabarimala temple, was on Thursday forced to abandon her trek following a massive protest.
Suhasini Raj, who works as the India reporter for The New York Times, along with her colleague, a foreign national, managed to go past the Pamba gateway but was stopped midway by angry devotees who erected a human wall before her.
According to witnesses, the protesters forced the two journalists to return.
However, Thiruvananthapuram Inspector General of Police (IGP) Manoj Abraham rebutted reports that the reporter 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".
As she was ascending, Raj kept saying that she did not come to pray but to do her work.
"It was a massive protest by the devotees. The protesters were sitting on the pathway shouting slogans against her. She had no other way but to return and she did that," said a witness here.
Police has imposed Section 144 in four places-- Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal, and Elavungal.
Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) prohibits an assembly of more than four people in an area.
On Wednesday, the protesters, who opposed the entry of women in the 10-50 age group to the Sabarimala temple, clashed with the police and heckled female journalists as the pilgrimage season opened.
The temple opened for the first time on Wednesday after the September 28 Supreme Court ruling allowing entry of women aged between 10 and 50.
The district authorities have clamped a 24 hour Section 144 in a 30 square km radius of the temple town and the state is observing a statewide shutdown on Thursday called by a Hindu organisation backed by the BJP-led NDA.
(With inputs from agencies)