Activist Trupti Desai reaches Kerala, unable to exit airport as protesters swell

 New Delhi, Nov 16, News24 Bureau: Trupti Desai, founder of Bhumata Brigade is at Cochin International Airport. Protests are underway outside the airport against her visit to Sabarimala Temple. Activist Trupti Desai has reached Kochi International Airport in the early hours of Friday to visit the Sabarimala temple but she could not come out of the domestic terminal following a protest by devotees opposing the entry of menstrual women into the Lord Ayyappa temple. Here are the LIVE updates:

-The Sabarimala temple is all set to open at 5PM Friday amid high security. There is a high drama at the airport still as activist Trupti Desai is still inside the airport since last eight hours. She is not being allowed to come outside the airport and Trupti says that she will not retutrn before visiting the temple, even if she has to lose her life for this cause.

-Visuals from Pamba in Pathanamthitta: Lord Ayyappa devotees throng base camp to begin trek to Sabarimala Temple. Heavy security deployed in the area

-Police tried to evacuate us from another gate but protesters were there as well. Protests being held here. Does this mean protesters are scared that we'll reach Sabarimala once we reach Nilakkal, or, are they trying to scare us? We won't return until we have 'darshan.

-We reached Cochin Airport at 4:30 am. Protests were being held outside. We booked Taxi 2-3 times but drivers have been threatened that their vehicle will be vandalised if they offer us a drive. Police have said that we can't go outside now.

-Trupti Desai, founder of Bhumata Brigade, having breakfast at Cochin International Airport as she hasn't been able to leave the airport yet due to protests being carried out against her visit to Sabarimala Temple.

 Tension prevailed at the airport as protesters announced that Desai and her colleagues, who reached here around 4.40 am from Pune, would not be allowed to go out of the airport.The temple opens Friday evening, for the third time since the apex court verdict on September 28 allowed women of all age group to offer prayers at the hilltop Lord Ayyappa temple though none could do so following stiff resistance from devotees and activists, opposing any change in the temple traditions.

Protesting local BJP leaders at the airport said the devotees would not let Desai and her colleagues, reportedly total six in numbers, to come out of the airport and proceed to Sabarimala temple.They alleged that Desai and her team came here to violate the centuries--old custom of the temple that prevents entry of women and girls in the age group of 10 and 50."She (Desai) came here not for darshan but for disturbing a peaceful Sabarimala  pilgrim season beginning Saturday," they said.The Ayyappa devotees comprising women and BJP workers, assembled in large numbers outside the airport, continued their protest chanting Ayyappa mantra.Talking to media over phone, Desai said she would not go back to Maharashtra without a darshan at the Lord Ayyappa temple.Taxi drivers at the airport said they would not take Desai and her colleagues outside the airport.Police in large numbers were present in the domestic terminal of the airport to deal with the situation.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.

With Agencies