560 woman reg­is­ter to en­ter flash­point tem­ple

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

NEW DELHI: A new stand­off be­tween Hindu tra­di­tion­al­ists and In­dian po­lice over a flash­point shrine is loom­ing next week, with 560 women re­port­edly reg­is­ter­ing to visit the side when it re­opens on Novem­ber 17.

In­dia’s Supreme Court in Septem­ber ruled that all fe­males should be al­lowed into the Sabari­mala hill­top tem­ple in the south­ern state of Ker­ala, and not just those un­der 10 or over 50 as be­fore.

But when the tem­ple re­opened in mid-Oc­to­ber, a hand­ful of women who wanted to go were pre­vented by hard­lin­ers, who also threw stones at po­lice and as­saulted jour­nal­ists.

Po­lice later de­tained around 2,000 peo­ple. The protesters’ anger re­flected an old but still preva­lent view in some ar­eas of In­dia that con­nects men­stru­a­tion with im­pu­rity. The tem­ple opens again on Novem­ber 17 for a Hindu fes­ti­val pe­riod last­ing 41 days, and some 300,000 peo­ple have reg­is­tered to visit -- in­clud­ing some 560 woman, me­dia re­ports said.

Po­lice said that sev­eral thou­sand ex­tra of­fi­cers would be de­ployed and that tighter re­stric­tions will be in place in an at­tempt to avoid clashes.

“Now, pri­vate ve­hi­cles will only be able to get to Ni­lackal, the first base camp, af­ter get­ting prior passes (per­mis­sion) from the lo­cal po­lice,” Pramod Ku­mar, Ker­ala po­lice spokesman said.

The peo­ple will have to board gov­ern­ment buses from there to Pamba, the next base camp around 20km away, be­fore they start their on-foot climb to the top of the hill.

The Hindu daily said that Ker­ala po­lice are con­sid­er­ing us­ing a mil­i­tary he­li­copter to take women to the hill­top site. In Oc­to­ber women could not even be­gin as­cend­ing be­cause of the protests.

Be­fore the re-open­ing, on Tues­day the Supreme Court is due to hear re­view chal­lenges against its ear­lier ver­dict.

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