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India’s Kerala erupts in violence after women of ‘menstruating age’ make historic temple entry

January 3, 2019 GMT

Violent protests have swept the southern Indian state of Kerala after two women made history by entering a prominent Hindu temple where they were previously forbidden.

Bindu Ammini, 40, and Kanaka Durga, 39, entered the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday, four months after India’s supreme court lifted a 1972 ban that prohibited women of “menstruating age” from worshipping there.

The historic act sparked a wave of protests Wednesday that resulted in the death of at least one person and 15 others injured, the BBC reported. The clashes continued Thursday, shutting down schools and public transportation across the state.


More than 700 people were arrested, 60 police officers injured, and more than 80 public buses and a dozen police vehicles damaged since the protests began.

The clashes are between right-wing groups supported by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules India, and supporters of the Communist government of Kerala, which endorses women’s right to pray at the Sabarimala.

State police escorted the two women to the temple on Wednesday, because it is “the government’s constitutional responsibility to give protection to women,” said Pinarayi Vijayan, the state’s top elected official, The Independent reported.

After the women left, Hindu priests “purified” the temple and closed it down out of protest, The Independent reported.