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IWPC expresses shock over heckling of journalists covering Sabarimala protests

    New Delhi, Oct 18 (PTI) The Indian Women's Press Corps Thursday expressed "deep shock" over heckling of journalists who were covering the march of women towards the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
    The women press body also appealed to the Kerala government to "book the culprits involved in the intimidation and assault of all the affected mediapersons".
    The journalists were on duty reporting women devotees' bid to enter the historic temple as permitted by a recent Supreme Court order.
    "The IWPC wishes to express its deep shock and outrage over the assault on mediapersons who were assigned to cover the entry of women in the Sabarimala Temple, Kerala on October 17," the press body said in a statement.
    On Wednesday, the iron gates of the Sabarimala Temple were opened for the first time since the apex court allowed women of menstrual age to enter the shrine, but no one from the "banned" age group could make it to its sacred premises amid protests and violent clashes.
    The women journalists were heckled, their vehicles smashed and young female Ayyappa devotees turned back as hordes of Hindu right activists besieged the road leading to the hill-top temple, abode to Lord Ayyappa, its eternally celibate deity.
    "As per reports, both television and print media journalists were set upon by protestors who were opposing the entry of all women into the temple. Journalists were heckled, equipment and vehicles smashed by the protestors at the Nilackal base camp. Vehicle checks by vigilante groups intimidated and obstructed the movement of media personnel present on duty," the IWPC statement said.
    "While the state government made arrangements for women to enter the temple as per the Supreme Court order, it is shocking that not only did certain elements brazenly violate the order by not allowing women to enter but also attacked media persons who were present at the spot as part of their official assignments," it said. PTI KND KJ