Hindu hard-lin­ers par­a­lyze In­dian state over women at shrine

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

HINDU hard-lin­ers shut shops and busi­nesses and clashed with po­lice in a south­ern state Thurs­day to protest the en­try of two women in one of India’s largest Hindu pil­grim­age sites.

Sup­port­ers of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party held protest marches in Ker­ala state as part of a strike call by Sabari­mala Karma Samithi, an um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion of Hindu groups.

Women of men­stru­at­ing age were for­bid­den to pray at the tem­ple un­til the Supreme Court lifted the ban in Septem­ber. The ban was in­for­mal for many years, but be­came law in 1972. Some devo­tees have filed a pe­ti­tion say­ing the court de­ci­sion re­vok­ing the ban was an af­front to celi­bate de­ity Ayyappa.

The two women en­tered the tem­ple to pray early Wed­nes­day. They were es­corted by po­lice be­cause it is “the gov­ern­ment’s con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity to give pro­tec­tion to women,” said Pi­narayi Vi­jayan, the state’s top elected of­fi­cial.

He ac­cused the BJP of trig­ger­ing vi­o­lence when po­lice fired tear gas at sev­eral places to dis­perse stone-throw­ing mobs protest­ing the women’s en­try.

Vi­jayan told re­porters on Thurs­day that 39 po­lice of­fi­cers were in­jured while try­ing to con­trol the pro­test­ers, who also dam­aged 79 state-run buses in the state.

The Press Trust of India news agency re­ported that a 55-year-old passerby who was se­ri­ously in­jured in rock throw­ing by pro­test­ers in Pan­dalam a town died later Wed­nes­day.

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