One dead, 15 injured in chaos after women enter Sabarimala

India news: Protests and FURY as two women enter Hindu temple defying centuries-old ban

India news: Protests and FURY as two women enter Hindu temple defying centuries-old ban

The Kerala state government has sought to permit women to enter the Sabarimala temple.

Despite the Supreme Court's historic ruling on September 28 past year, permitting women in the 10-50 age group, no children or young women in the "barred" group were able to offer prayers at the shrine following frenzied protests by devotees and right-wing outfits.

Earlier, the Kerala state president of the BJP described the visit to the temple by the two women as "a conspiracy by the atheist rulers to destroy the Hindu temples".

"I had earlier made it clear that the government will provide protection if any women come forward to enter the temple", said Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala's chief minister, according to local TV. Others have tried, but were rebuffed by angry mobs. "We had no trouble trekking to the shrine and the officials were co-operative", Ammini tells the BBC. "We left before the protesters spotted us".

A 42 and 44-year-old woman, accompanied by plain-clothed police officers, entered the shrine that has long barred women of childbearing age.

Police on Wednesday had used tear gas and water cannon, including in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, as protestors set fire to tyres and blocked roads. Relatives of one of the women had to be moved to a safe house. Upon their departure, the temple was closed for one hour so priests could perform purity rituals to cleanse the site. The videos have been widely shared on social media in India, along with very different messages: some applauded the women while others saw their actions as an attack on Hindu tradition.

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On Wednesday, Bindu Ammini, 40, and Kanaka Durga, 39, entered the shrine around dawn and became the first women to do so.

Thousands of Hindu devotees, many of them female, had previously succeeded in preventing women from accessing the site in the weeks following the landmark ruling, with some hardliners throwing stones at police and assaulting female journalists. Opponents have continued to pushed back against the verdict since. 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.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist), the ruling party in Kerala, said about 5.5 million women participated in the protest, called by the state government.

Kerala police said that the man who died on Wednesday was part of a demonstration organised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He noted that there are also temples that bar men from entering.

A police spokesman told CNN Thursday that the women - identified only by their given names Bindu Ammini and Kankadurga - are now in an undisclosed location along with some of their relatives.

The BJP actively supported the hartal, while the main opposition Congress separately observed a "black day" to protest the entry of the women into Sabarimala temple, the abode of Lord Ayyappa. "But this is only the first step, we need to guard our rights in the family, in the home, in the workplace".

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