LIVE Entering Sabarimala an uphill task: Protesters force women devotees to go back, police mum

New Delhi, News24 Bureau, Oct 17: (Despite orders from Apex Court, women devotees below 50 are facing a lot of issues in visiting the Sabarimala Temple as the protesters are making the things difficult for them.Tension prevailed on Wednesday morning in Kerala's Nilackal, the main gateway to Sabarimala, after the police used force to disperse devotees opposing the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the hill shrine.Acting tough, the police, deployed in large numbers in Nilackal, some 20 kms away from the Sabarimala hilltop, also removed a makeshift shelter erected by a protesting group Sabarimala Achara Samrakshana Samiti. Here are the LIVE updates:

-National Commission for Women takes cognizance of the attack on women journalists at Sabarimala. A meeting is underway at NCW office for further steps to be taken.  

-50 people have been taken into custody in Pathanamthitta district for protesting against entry of women in age group 10 to 50 to Sabarimala temple.One Andhra woman devotee was forced to turn back fearing violence. Protesters force a 40-year-old woman, Madhavi and her family from Andhra Pradesh, to abandon their visit to the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. Madhavi, accompanied by her parents and children, set off for the pilgrimage on the Swami Ayyapan road, but 10 minutes into their trek they had to abandon their plan due to protests and intimidation. They alleged the police did not offer protection and escort them to the shrine.Another woman from Alappuzha district of Keala, said to be in the below 50 years age group, who was on the way to Sabarimala armed with the Supreme Court order was stopped from proceeding at the Pathanamthitta bus terminal by passengers.The passengers including women chanting Ayyappa mantra urged the woman, Liby, not to violate the centuries-old custom of the shrine where women in the menstruating age group are not allowed.Liby said she would climb the hills and no one had the right to violate the freedom granted by the Supreme Court. The woman was later escorted out to the bus station by the police.The Sabarimala Temple opened to the public for the first time since the Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter and offer prayers to the deity Lord Ayyappa.Social activist Rahul Easwar on Wednesday had said that the believers of the old age tradition will stage a peaceful protest to stop women from entering the temple premises.Police have been deployed in large numbers in Nilackal, some 20 km away from the Sabarimala hilltop. A protesting group of devotees had been staging a sit-in chanting the Ayyappa mantra in the shelter in protest against the Supreme Court order permitting women of all age groups to enter the shrine.The protesting group of devotees had been staging a sit-in chanting Ayyappa mantra in the shelter in protest against the Supreme Court order permitting women of all age groups to enter the shrine.The protesting people, who were less in numbers, ran from the spot when the police initiated action in the early hours Wednesday when they tried to block the buses from the key entry point to the temple.Hours ahead of opening of the hill shrine for the monthly prayer, the police said they would not let anyone to block the movement of the people.Taking the full control of Nilackal, Police also warned against those who create hurdles in the ways of pilgrims to the hill shrine.The police took strong action against the protesters after some of them checked the vehicles heading to Pamba and prevented the women in the age group of 10 and 50 from entering the hill shrine.w