#SabarimalaRow: Temple reopened after purification; BJP calls for hartal
After a shutdown that lasted a bit over an hour, the Sabarimala temple has been reopened for devotees to visit. The temple had been shut down for 'purification' after two women aged below 50 years scripted history and entered the shrine to pray in the wee hours of Wednesday. Meanwhile, protests have erupted across Kerala, and BJP has called for a hartal. Here's more.
History was made in the wee hours of Wednesday
At around 3.45am on Wednesday morning, two women in their 40s - Bindu and Kanakdurga - entered the Sabarimala shrine escorted by a small group of police. It's understood that the visit did not face any significant protests as the temple was largely deserted at that hour. Nevertheless, it marked a historical moment, with the two women becoming the first women of menstrual age to enter the Sabarimala temple in over 800 years.
The news of the women's entry left protesters incensed
As news of their visit spread, it did not sit kindly with those who oppose the entry of women aged 10-50 years to the temple. Notably, since the Supreme Court quashed the 800-year-old ban on the entry of women aged 10-50 years in September, these same protesters had successfully barred women of menstrual age from entering the temple.
As protests intensify, tear gas, water cannons used in Thiruvananthapuram
Following their entry, protesting Ayyappa devotees led by BJP workers took out massive demonstrations in various parts of Kerala. BJP workers with black flags were seen protesting at several places, while protesters blocked traffic on the national highway in Kasaragod. BJP and CPM workers clashed in front of the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, and police had to use tear gas and water cannons to restore order.
Violence is spreading; hartal called on Thursday
Reportedly, violence is also spreading to other parts of Kerala, and police have had to carry out baton charges against protesters in Palakkad, Kasaragod and Thiruvananthapuram. The protests are unlikely to calm down any time soon as the Sabarimala Karma Samiti, an umbrella organization of many Hindu outfits led by the BJP, has called for a dusk-to-dawn hartal or shutdown in Kerala on Thursday.
BJP, Congress have called for CM Pinarayi Vijayan's resignation
The women's visit to the temple has also been extremely politicized, and the BJP labelled the occasion a "black day" for Kerala. The saffron party has also called for two days of protests, along with the Congress-led UDF. Both the BJP and the Congress in Kerala have also called for the resignation of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.