Hindu hard-liners paralyze Indian state over women at shrine

Hindu hard-liners paralyze Indian state over women at shrine

Hindu hard-liners paralyze Indian state over women at shrine

Two women have entered a Hindu temple for the first time since a ban was lifted on female visitors between the ages of 10 and 50.

The women - a university professor and a government employee, both in their 40s - entered the inner sanctum of the Sabarimala temple around 3:45 a.m., according to a local news agency which released video of the visit.

Taxis, buses, and shops shut down across the state, as protestors clashed with police who were dispersed to protect businesses which remained open. They were escorted by police because it is "the government's constitutional responsibility to give protection to women", Vijayan said.

The two women had tried and failed to enter the temple on December 24, and later approached police for help, an officer said.

Last September, however, India's Supreme Court ruled that all women had the right to worship at Sabarimala, which sits in a tiger reserve in the state of Kerala and draws tens of millions of visitors each year.

Indian women stand in a line to take part in a "women's wall" protest in Kochi in southern Kerala state on January 1, 2019. The police spokesperson said demonstrators blocked several roads and threw rocks at officers.

He accused the BJP of triggering violence when police fired tear gas at several places to disperse stone-throwing mobs protesting the women's entry. There were no immediate reports of injuries. They also said their aim was to offer prayers at the temple and they achieved it without facing any trouble from the devotees. "If they had extended their arms, the length of the wall would have increased so much that women would be falling in the Arabian Sea", said Subhashini Ali, a local civil servant and CPIM member. The act was a showing of support of gender equality. The possibility of more confrontations was raised by a call from an umbrella group of right-wing Hindu groups in Kerala, the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, which is supported by the BJP, for a state-wide protest strike today.

This week in Kerala, India, some 5 million women formed a human chain spanning 385 miles, from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram, the BBC reports. "Women media persons were also attacked".

India's Supreme Court declared the ban to be unconstitutional in September.

Opponents of the ruling have argued that decisions made by the temple's religious leaders are protected by India's constitution.

As a result, officials from the state government and the police conducted a few rounds of reconnaissance to identify the side entrance, and to decide on the appropriate timing and transport, the police official said. "Police or political party agenda, as was being alleged by the BJP and others, is baseless", she said.

The revelation that women had entered the temple on Wednesday sparked uproar among Hindu devotees, including many in the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, who believe that women of menstruating age should not enter the temple because the deity to which it is dedicated, Ayyappa, was celibate.

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