Protests turned violent across the Indian state of Kerala on Wednesday, Jan. 2, after two women defied a centuries-old ban and entered a Hindu temple.
As reports of "violation of custom" at Sabarimala spread fanning out protests across the state, with the cadres of BJP, Yuva Morcha, RSS, and other organizations going on a rampage the police resorted to detaining the agitators as a preventive measure.
The Sabarimala temple historically barred women and girls aged 10 to 50 from entering, since a state court ruling in 1991.
Police with batons charged at demonstrators who were trying to enforce a shutdown of shops and businesses in the area called for by the Sabarimala temple hierarchy. Several officers were reportedly injured.
The temple was shut down for ritual "purification" for sometime before reopening, NDTV reported. Noted activist G Mallika viewed this as a clear indication that the trouble in Sabarimala was created by right-wing activists who entered the hillock disguised as devotees.
"We did not enter the shrine by climbing the 18 holy steps but went through the staff gate", one of the women later told reporters.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan also confirmed the entry of both women and added that the police were bound to protect anyone who wants to enter the temple.More news: Rep. Crenshaw: Wall Crucial Part of Border Security
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The Communist Party of India (CPI) appeared to disapprove of two women of menstruating age group entering the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala "secretly" on Wednesday and said it should have been done "openly".
The restriction on woman at Sabarimala, situated on top of a 3,000-foot (915-metre) hill in a tiger reserve that takes hours to climb, reflects a belief - not exclusive to Hinduism - that menstruating women are impure. The ban was informal for many years, but became law in 1972.
The women trekked the hill a day after the state-sponsored 620-km-long "wall of women", which was formed from Kasargode in the northern part of the state until the southern-most district of Thiruvananthapuram, to reignite the spirit of renaissance. According to reports, two women, Bindu and Kanakadurga, successfully completed their trek and worshipped the deity inside the temple. The boy fired an arrow which landed at the site where the temple now stands. For the first time in the history the temple has been closed due to the breaking of tradition.
The Supreme Court has agreed to re-examine its decision to lift the ban later this month in response to 49 petitions filed against it.
The Kerala state government, run by left-wing parties, has sought to allow women into the temple - a position that has drawn the criticism of India's two largest political parties, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He pointed to other Hindu temples and ceremonies where men are not allowed to attend.
Protests broke out in several places in the state after the women entered the temple.