Sri Lankan woman latest to enter Sabarimala after violence
More than 1,000 people have been arrested in Kerala under a police operation “Broken Window” following Thursday’s shutdown over the entry of two women into the Sabarimala temple as political workers clashed with police and each other across the state.Updated: Jan 04, 2019 13:25 IST
A 46-year-old Sri Lankan woman entered the Sabarimala temple in Kerala late on Thursday, a day after two women offered prayers at the hilltop shrine triggering violence across the state, police said on Friday.
Sasikala is the third woman after Bindu Ammini, 42, and Kanakadurga, 44, worshipped at Sabarimala defying a tradition barring the entry of female devotees between 10 and 50 years of age into the shrine, more than three months after the Supreme Court lifted the ban.
Sasikala entered the temple ten minutes before it was about to close at 11pm on Thursday and was accompanied by her husband. She claimed her uterus was removed after an operation so she does not come under the category of menstruating women.
A high-level team led by a superintendent of police in plain clothes accompanied them, as they provided an escort to the two women on Wednesday.
Police confirmed Sasikala visited the temple and said she denied the report as part of a strategy to ensure her safe return. Closed-circuit television cameras also showed their presence at the temple.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested in Kerala under a police operation “Broken Window” following Thursday’s shutdown over the entry of two women into the Sabarimala temple as political workers clashed with police and each other across the state.
The shutdown was called after Bindu and Kanakadurga defied the centuries-old tradition and offered prayers at the hilltop shrine to Lord Ayyappa on Wednesday, infuriating the traditionalists. (live updates)
The situation remained tense on Friday as bombs were hurled at the house of Malabar Devasom Board member Sasikumar in Perambra in Kozhikode district early in the morning. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) blamed RSS for the attack.
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At least 50 houses of rival parties, primarily Bharatiya Janata Party and CPI(M) workers, were also attacked on Thursday night. In Adoor, 40 houses were attacked.
Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s managing director Tomin Thachankery said at least 99 were damaged in Thursday’s shutdown. Employees of KSRTC later staged a rally with the damaged buses.
The dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of pro-Hindutva groups, and the Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP), to protest the entry of two women of menstruating into the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday brought the state to a standstill.
Their activists hurled crude bombs and stones as they rampaged through the streets of Kerala, fighting pitched battles with police and political rivals, leaving scores of people injured including three BJP workers in a knife attack, officials said.
They attacked over 20 offices of the ruling CPI(M) and its other Left allies, and clashed with police, leaving at least 31 personnel injured. At least ten journalists were also attacked and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists decided to boycott the press meets called by the BJP. Journalists also staged a protest march.
The state’s police chief Lok Nath Behera said a special team will probe the assault on media.
In Thrissur, three BJP activists were stabbed during a scuffle with workers of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political wing of Popular Front of India, a militant Islamic outfit, police said. The incident occurred when BJP workers attempted to force a restaurant to down the shutters.
A 55-year-old man, who was seriously injured when CPI(M) workers hurled stones at protesters from atop their party office at Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district, died late Wednesday night. He will be cremated on Friday.
However, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said while speaking to reporters that Chandran Unnithan died due to a cardiac arrest. The postmortem examination, however, later confirmed he died from serious head injuries.
Unnithan was part of the protest march taken out by Sabarimala Karma Samithi on Wednesday evening which came under attack by CPI(M) workers. Nine people accused of involvement in the attack have been identified and two of them arrested, police said.
The chief minister blamed the BJP-RSS combine for the violence and warned of stern action against the perpetrators. He told reporters that the government was not against the belief of the believers, but owed allegiance to the Constitution.
He also slammed the Sabarimala’s tantri or the head priest for conducting purification rituals after the entry of the two women, saying he should have quit if he was not ready to accept the Supreme Court verdict. The top court had on September 28 last year lifted the ban on entry of girls and women in 10-50 years age group into the shrine.
As the state plunged into chaos, Governor P Sathasivam sought an “urgent report” from Vijayan on the disturbances.
The Supreme Court refused to urgently hear a contempt petition moved by a lawyers’ group against the Sabarimala temple authorities for closing the shrine for purification after two women entered it.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul said the contempt petition will be heard along with the pending review petitions against the top court’s verdict which allowed women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple.
Advocate PV Dinesh, who appeared for Indian Young Lawyers Association, told the bench the temple authorities closed the shrine one Wednesday for purification after the women’s entry which was in violation of its verdict.
(With agency inputs)