Hours before the re-opening of the Sabarimala temple doors, in the wake of Supreme Court's verdict in September, mass protests and blockade was witnessed at the Kochi airport, which left Trupti Desai and activists stranded.
Desai, the spearhead behind women's entry into the temple, and Rahul Easwar, face of 'Sava Sabarimala' campaign, indulged in a fierce face-off on Republic TV after the former was forced to stay put at the airport since 4:30 am on Friday.
Giving the gist of the situation at the airport, Desai said, “Currently there is a situation of law and order. If you hear behind me there are protests remonstrating outside. They are stopping us from getting out. If we book a cab they are threatening us. If we try to book a hotel for staying, they are calling and threatening the hotel of an attack. Whatever is happening is extremely wrong and we are stopped at the airport. Even the police have warned us that if we try to get out the situation might get unpredictable- there could be an attack on us, we may even bear injuries.”
She added, “So, we have told the police of our next plan of action, we are going to enter the Temple tomorrow. We have also asked for security from the security forces, for which they have agreed to provide us."
Rahul Easwar, who has been at the forefront of protests over the past two months to not let women of age group 10-50 enter the temple premises, hit back at Trupti, stating that no violent protest is taking place.
"There are two things Truptiji. Nobody is abusing you and we are going ahead with the Gandhian way of protesting. I am reaching the Kochi airport and we have made it clear, if you want to intrude the Sabarimala temple, you will have to cross by footing our chests and enter," he added.
Not agreeing with his words, and his stand on the matter, Trupti responded by saying, "Keep your repetitive dialogue of ‘enter the Temple by stepping on our chests’ to yourself. We will get protection there and over 500 females are waiting there. They have bookings online. Will you keep threatening us every time? Will you keep insulting the decision of the Supreme Court every time? Will you always keep trying to suppress the rights of women? The Supreme Court is giving us the rights, the Constitution is giving us the rights. Then who are you to snatch these rights from us and practice inequality?”
“This is your conspiracy to provoke people. Although the protests are conducted in a Gandhian manner, but there are constant threats that if we step outside the airport, we would be cut into pieces. The police are being told to indulge in violence, to throw us in jails,” she added.
She then went onto question Rahul Easwar, accusing him and the protestors of being scared of the women who are trying to enter the temple.
"Rahul ji you are not even letting us out of the airport. I am surprised that your seven lac devotees are scared of seven women. This is absolutely wrong because I had told you to protest but do it peacefully. I think you are scared of us. If we get out of the airport, you know we will definitely go to the Temple and that’s exactly why you have stopped us here. If you really had the courage, you would have stopped us at the Sabarimala Temple. You have tried to choke our voices, we have full rights to enter the Temple. You have tried to bully us, threatening us and no woman is going to bear this," she further added.
Easwar retaliated by saying, “This is Gandhi-giri Trupti ji. No one is trying to threaten you, no one is abusing you and no one is pelting stoned at you. We are resisting in a very Gandhian way.”
He even went ahead and accused Desai, the Kerala Police, and the government of threatening the devotees, “We will definitely go against the threatening and we will definitely resist this.”
Both Desai and Easwar concluded by posing an ultimatum to each other where Desai swore to enter the Temple and Easwar promised to resist. The 'Save Sabarimala' campaigner said, "We will never let you enter the temple, this is my promise, I promise on Swami Ayyappa," before Trupti hit back by stating, "We will declare our final decision".
The Lord Ayyappa shrine re-opened on Friday evening for the two-month-long Madala-Makkarvilakku puja on Saturday. Desai, who spearheaded the campaign for women to be allowed into various religious places, including Shani Shingnapur temple, the Haji Ali Dargah, the Mahalakshmi Temple and the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, had sent an email to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking security as she fears an attack on her life during her visit to the hill shrine.