Indian police clash with protesters over women in Hindu temple

Vanitha Mathil Women's Wall Womens wall

Protesters also clashed with police and some were later detained.

Shrine opened after "purification ritual " Chennai: Taken by surprise and equally shocked after two menstruating women broke their resistance and entered the Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha temple to finally offer darshan, the Sabarimala Karma Samithi led by BJP and other right-wing organizations besides the Congress party announced scaling up of protests till they succeed in unseating chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Many Hindu groups and BJP oppose the ruling.

Police with batons also charged at protesters who were trying to enforce a shutdown of shops in the area. A few policemen were injured after protesters targeted them with stones.

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". The shrine was shut down for an hour for "purification rituals".

The women were identified as 42-year-old Kanaka Durga and 44-year-old Bindu Ammini, who told India Today TV that the two represented "the society fighting for gender justice".

Kumar said police were gearing up for more protests on Thursday because several political and Hindu groups have called for a general strike to protest the women's entry.

India's Supreme Court a year ago voided the ban on women aged 10-50 from entering the temple.

The restriction on women 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.

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On Tuesday, over 35 lakh women stood shoulder-to- shoulder across the national highways in Kerala, creating a 620 km-long human "wall" from the northern end of Kasaragod to the state's southern tip. According to reports, two women, Bindu and Kanakadurga, successfully completed their trek and worshipped the deity inside the temple.

The Supreme Court is to start hearing a legal challenge to its ruling on 22 January.

At 12 Ayyappa revealed his divinity when he emerged from the forest riding a tigress. He said that the women had gone to Sabarimala with the help of CPM leaders.

Worshippers celebrate a festival each year when a procession of the goddess is taken to a spot close to the temple three times - and she is forced to wait.

"Of course, I support the move to allow women of all ages into the temple".

The Kerala state government is run by left-wing parties and it has sought to allow women into the temple - a position that has drawn the criticism of both of the main political parties, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP is not in power in Kerala.

There were protests in several other cities in the state, media reported.

Indira Jaising, a lawyer who argued against the ban before India's Supreme Court, said that Wednesday's visit marked "a historic moment".

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