Published: Fri, January 04, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Protests in India after Women Enter Hindu Temple

Protests in India after Women Enter Hindu Temple

Thiruvananthapuram: Police in southern India said Friday that a third woman has entered a flashpoint temple, stoking tensions after two days of clashes involving Hindu hardliners and police.

About 400 protesters, including some women, took to the streets of Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala, in the early morning, backed by officials from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the BJP.

Rushda Siddiqui - executive committee member, National Federation of Indian Women.

Four people were stabbed, according to media reports, with stone-throwing protesters smashing the windows of 99 buses and causing an estimated 33.5 million rupees ($478,000) worth of damage.

Kerala remained tense on Thursday, and the police said additional forces had been deployed across the state to prevent further violence breaking out. Women between the ages of 10 and 50 had traditionally been banned because Lord Ayyappa, the revered Hindu god who is worshipped in the temple, is a celibate bachelor. One 55-year-old activist from the town of Pathanamthitta died as a result of injuries he sustained after being pummeled by stones.

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After the formation of the protest, two women entered the temple for the first time following the lifting of the ban by the Supreme Court in September 2018. However, the temple refused to abide by the court's ruling and subsequent attempts by women to visit it had been blocked by thousands of devotees supporting the ban. A spokesperson for the Opposition Congress party, K Sudhakaran, described the two women entering the temple as "treachery" and that the left-wing state government "will have to pay the price for the violation of the custom".

On Wednesday, Bindu Ammini, 40, and Kanaka Durga, 39, entered the shrine around dawn and became the first women to do so. Kerala government, led by Pinarayi Vijayan, did not have the patience to wait till January 22 and had the audacity to send women inside the temple.

Vijayan also slammed the head priest of the Sabarimala temple for carrying out a "purification ritual" after the two women entered the site, saying he should quit if he is not prepared to accept the Supreme Court verdict.

On Tuesday, millions of women in Kerala joined hands to form a human link that stretched more than 600 kilometers.

September's verdict was the latest progressive ruling from the court, with judges also overturning bans on gay sex and adultery previous year.

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