A cameraman of a Malayalam television news channel was attacked, allegedly by angry devotees, at the Lord Ayyappa temple complex here Tuesday when he was filming a protest organised to prevent the entry of a woman, whom they suspected to be of menstrual age. Hundreds of devotees shouted at Vishnu, the cameraman, as he was taking visuals of them protesting. Television channels also aired visuals of some protesters hurling a plastic stool at the cameraman, who climbed up the sun-shade of a building to capture the protest. Police later confirmed that the woman, identified as Lalitha, a native of Tirur, was 52 years old, and had come to the Lord Ayyappa temple for her grandson's 'chorunnu' (rice giving ceremony). She came with her family members when the shrine opened this morning for the "Sree Chitira Atta Thirunal" puja to mark the birth anniversary of the last king of the princely state of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, police said.
The news channel also alleged that the agitators threw a coconut at him, which devotees offer to the deity. Vishnu was seen handing over his camera safely to other journalists standing below the sunshade. The police said no case has been registered so far in connection with the incident. Several journalists had been attacked by devotees when the doors of the Sabarimala temple was opened for six days on October 17 for the first time since the Supreme Court allowed the entry of women of all age groups into the hill temple. Attempts by around a dozen women, including activists and journalists in the 10-50 years age group, to script history came to nought as frenzied devotees of Lord Ayyappa heckled and hassled them and forced them to retreat.
The Ayyappa temple opened Monday for the second time in three weeks for a two-day special puja amid unprecedented security over apprehension of protests by those opposing the Supreme Court order, allowing women of menstrual age there. Hundreds of police personnel, including armed commandos, are keeping a tight vigil in the temple complex and nearby areas to prevent any untoward incident.