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Violence mars women’s fight to enter Sabarimala temple

Nearly 1,369 people have been arrested after protests erupted across Kerala when two women entered the temple secretly and offered prayers.

One Bindu Ammini, a resident of Koyilandy in Kozhikode district, and Kanakadurga, a native of Angadipuram in Malappuram district, entered the temple with a police escort around 3:45 am last Wednesday.

They had previously attempted to climb the hill on December 24, before being blocked by protesters. 
 
Earlier in the week, 50 lakh women formed a 620-kilometre wall in Kerala in their efforts for gender equality. The wall was formed on the national highway stretching from the northern tip of Kasargod to the south end in Thiruvananthapuramm which they claimed is “Kerala Renaissance.”
 
In a tweet, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said: “Congratulations to all who made Kerala's #WomensWall a great success. The 620 KM long gathering, organized to uphold the values of Kerala Renaissance, saw huge participation of women from all walks of life. This is a momentous occasion in our social life.” 
 
This parade was organised by the state’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) along with support from nearly 176 social and political organisations including the CPI. Some of the protestors said that gender equality is an aspect of freedom. “Women have been protesting to have equal rights according to the Constitution. Who can prevent a devotee from reaching God? It is our moment to show that women have a right to enter the temple,” they said. 
 
In their attempts to break the human wall, BJP and RSS workers in Kerala at broke the wall at Chettukundu, 20 kilometres south of Kasargod. This incident of hurling stones at women and injuring three police personnel also triggered a fight between LDF supporters and the right-wing activists. Some of the RSS workers also attacked the media and broke the camera while some resorted to damaging a bus ferrying women to the event. 
 
The Women’s Wall has been organised following the Supreme Court’s September 28th verdict on Sabarimala, in which the apex court lifted the bank on entry of menstruating women into the temple. However, the Supreme Court verdict was opposed by devotees as well the the right-wing parties. Violent protests continued to break out ever since the verdict as women tried to enter the temple. 
 
Following the Women’s wall, Sabarimala temple’s head priest ordered to shut the temple and perform purification rituals after reports of women’s entry into the temple were confirmed. While the fight for women’s right is still on, one wonders whether this is a battle worth fighting for? The answer is open to guesswork.

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