One dead, 15 hurt after women enter flashpoint India temple

One dead, 15 hurt after women enter flashpoint India temple

Hindus chant devotional songs during a protest against reports of two women of menstruating age entering the Sabarimala temple, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019.

Temple was shut for "purification" rituals after the women visited.

Violent clashes were reported between scores of people in front of the state parliament in Thiruvananthapuram, while protests with sporadic violence were also reported in several other towns across the state. Despite the ruling, other women who tried to enter the shrine over the past few weeks were stopped from doing so by devotees and other groups who strongly oppose the entry of women of menstruating age into the temple complex. The BJP, which holds power on the federal level, accused the far-left government of the state of Kerala of a "conspiracy" to "destroy the Hindu temples".

This was the first time that woman of menstruating age - deemed as those aged 10 to 50 - had set foot in the gold-plated hilltop temple since the Supreme Court overturned a ban in September.

The temple has refused to abide by the ruling and subsequent attempts by women to visit it had been blocked by thousands of devotees.

Meanwhile, a third woman entered and worshipped at the said temple, police said on Friday.

The first two women to breach the ban arrived in an ambulance with a plainclothes police escort on Wednesday and went in through a side gate without any devotees noticing. Again, no injuries were reported.

Kumar said police were gearing up for more protests on Thursday because several political and Hindu groups have called for a general strike to protest the women's entry.

Addressing party workers at Karette on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, Vijayan ridiculed the BJP and RSS and asked why they have not called for a hartal after one more woman had trekked the hills and offered prayers at Sabarimala. The act was a showing of support of gender equality.

Just before the latest escalation of violence, women in Kerala formed a 620 kilometer (385 mile) human chain and recited a pledge to aid gender equality in India. "Women media persons were also attacked".

The Supreme Court is set to review a plea against the ruling on January 22. Proponents of the ban on women of menstrual age argue that since Ayyappa is considered celibate, allowing "impure" women into the temple would be disrespectful.

When news broke of the women walking inside, groups of angry traditionalists staged demonstrations outside government offices, many waving black flags and blocking traffic. "Police or political party agenda, as was being alleged by the BJP and others, is baseless", she said.

Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party spearheaded the local protests against the Supreme Court ruling in Kerala, India's only communist-led state and considered one of the most progressive in the country. Later, in a tweet sent out from the PMO's official handle, he made references of how some temples do not allow men. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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