Kerala Observes ‘Black Day’ After Two Women Under 50 Enter Sabarimala
The Logical Indian Crew Kerala
January 3rd, 2019 / 11:31 AM
Image Credit: ANI
The situation in Kerala seems to have turned hostile after two women under the age of 50 created history by entering the Sabarimala temple on January 2. Reportedly, pro-Hindutva outfits have called for 12-hour dawn to dusk strike on Thursday, January 3. Moreover, opposition-led United Democratic Front said that it is going to observe a “black day”. Violent protests also broke out in different parts of the state including Thiruvananthapuram, Calicut, Malappuram among others.
Kerala: United Democratic Front to observe 'black day' in the state in connection with Sabarimala Temple women entry issue; Visuals from Thiruvananthapuram pic.twitter.com/YOfcRVKNge
— ANI (@ANI) January 3, 2019
As the protests turned violent, a 55-year-old activist of the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, identified as Chandran Unnithan was injured during the clashes and later succumbed to his injuries. He was reportedly hit by stones during a clash between the BJP workers and the ruling CPI(M) in Pandalam, reported India Today. Meanwhile, police forces have been deployed in different parts of the state to check the unrest. In a repetition of the previous incidents of clashes and protests, journalists who were covering it also sustained injuries.
The situation in the state capital, particularly in front of the Government Secretariat remained tensed and off limits for pedestrians after a fight broke out between the CPI(M) and BJP party workers. The Hindu reported that police forces had to make use of water cannons and tear gas at the crowd which left protestors injured. Reportedly, the violence started in the morning after the temple was closed for “purification” after the women entered it.
In light of today’s shutdown, universities like the Kerala University, Calicut University, and Kannur University have postponed their examination schedule while national carrier Air India and Jet Airways have issued advisories to passengers flying to Kerala today.
CM confirmed the news
Despite the Supreme Court order, the temple was kept off-limits for women with devotees staging mass protests across the state. Reportedly, the two women, Bindu and Kanakadurga, both in their 40s, entered the temple in the wee hours of Wednesday, January 2, 2019. After news reports emerged, both Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the police have confirmed the entry of the two women inside the temple.
CM Vijayan said, “Today, two women entered Sabarimala temple. We had issued standing orders to police to provide all possible protection to any woman who wants to enter the temple,” reported The Times Of India.
Women enter Sabarimala
Videos of the women hurrying into the shrine clad in traditional all-black clothing have also surfaced. The News Minute reported that the women were accompanied by the Kerala police and according to police sources, the women entered the temple through the north entrance which gets them directly into the shrine. Reportedly, the women avoided the traditional Pathinettam Padi route and the 18 steps which are climbed by the devotees. Additionally, the women chose late hours to minimise the risk of opposition and protests.
— ANI (@ANI) January 2, 2019
The women had earlier attempted to enter the temple on December 24 amidst mass protests, accompanied by a 50-member police battalion. While less than a kilometre away from the hilltop, the women were forced to climb down to the base camp at Pamba. Previously, other groups of women also made unsuccessful attempts to enter the temple.
Bindu reportedly told Asianet, “We conducted Darshana with police protection. We informed the police about our arrival once we reached Pamba, and faced no protests or issues from devotees.” Just hours after the incident, the temple was closed on January 2 for the purposes of “purification” at 10:30 am as opposed to 1 pm when it is usually kept shut.
The incident is being condemned
Rahul Easwar, activist and leader of the Ayyappa Dharma Sena took to Twitter and wrote:
We condemn the Kerala CPM Govt and police conspiracy to secretly get in 2 young women into #Sabarimala by 3 am in morning
Such cheap tactics are unbecoming of a State Govt.
— Rahul Easwar (@RahulEaswar) January 2, 2019
Travancore Devaswom Board said that they had no clue of the incident and added that whichever route the women claimed to have covered is heavily guarded by the police, reported The Times Of India. The BJP leadership said that if the news is found to be true then it is unfortunate and those who are found to be behind this action will face protest from the devotees for hurting them.
Incidentally, the news comes after an estimated 30 to 50 lakh women formed a 620-km-long ‘Women’s Wall’ in Kerala which also raised the issue of the Sabarimala temple row. Women between the menstruating age of 10 to 50 were barred from entering the temple until the apex court uplifted the ban on September 29, 2018. The state of Kerala has seen frenzied protests from devotees, barring the entry of women ever since.
Written by : Sromona Bhattacharyya
Edited by : Poorbita Bagchi