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Kerala CM Confirms Another Woman Under 50 Years of Age Prayed at Sabarimala, Taunts BJP and RSS

Police also confirmed that the woman from Sri Lanka did indeed enter the shrine and offered prayers, but she maintained she was turned away by police and that she could not offer prayers.

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Updated:January 4, 2019, 9:03 PM IST
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Kerala CM Confirms Another Woman Under 50 Years of Age Prayed at Sabarimala, Taunts BJP and RSS
The police released CCTV visuals of Sasikala and her husband Sarvanan inside the shrine.
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Thiruvananthapuram: A 46-year-old from Sri Lanka became the third to enter the Sabarimala temple after the Supreme Court lifted the age-old ban on females of menstruating age by defying protests by right-wing outfits, the chief minister’s office said on Friday.

It was not immediately clear how the woman, Sasikala, had got in. Police also confirmed that she did indeed enter the shrine and offered prayers, but she maintained she was turned away by police and that she could not offer prayers.

The police later released CCTV visuals of Sasikala and her husband Sarvanan inside the shrine. But it is not clear from the clip if she climbed the holy 18 steps to reach the sanctum sanctorum.

The first two women to breach the ban months after the SC verdict had arrived in an ambulance with a plainclothes police escort before dawn on Wednesday and went in through a side gate without any devotees noticing.

The chief minister's office said the third had gone to the temple with her husband, and had been offered police protection.

The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the hill temple, meanwhile sought an explanation from Tantri (priest) Kandararu Rajeevaru for closing the temple and performing purification rites after two women entered the temple on January 2. He has been given two days to respond.

Addressing party workers at Karette on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan ridiculed the BJP and RSS and asked why they have not called for a hartal after one more woman had trekked the hills and offered prayers at Sabarimala.

Lashing out at the Sangh Parivar forces, Vijayan said they were trying to disrupt the peace and unity of the state. "We faced the worst floods in 100 years. We are trying to rebuild our state, a rejuvenated Kerala, a new Kerala. We need that unity which we showcased during floods (in August). They (sangh parivar) are trying to destroy that. Do not fall for their tricks," he said.

Stray incidents of violence continued to be reported in the state, which turned into a war zone with rampaging protesters hurling crude bombs and stones at various places.

The house of Malabar Devaswom (temple administration) board member K Sasikumar at Perambra in Kozhikode was attacked with bombs in the early hours Friday, the police said. Similar explosives were hurled at a mobile shop in Adoor in Pathanamthitta, they said.

A police release said 1,718 people have been arrested in connection with the violence in the last two days and 1,108 cases registered till this evening. The release said 1,009 people have been taken into preventive custody.

Violent protests were witnessed during the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by pro-Hindu outfits on Thursday. With violence continuing in some parts, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala Friday alleged the home department and government had been a "complete failure."

Attacking the left government, he said the state has witnessed BJP-RSS workers unleashing violence in the last two days.

Since the LDF government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups to enter the holy shrine, the temple complex has witnessed fierce protests from right wing outfits, BJP and RSS workers. Traditionally women in the 10-50 age group are not allowed to enter the temple.

Kerala had witnessed unprecedented violence on Thursday, a day after the two women entered the hill temple, infuriating saffron outfits, with protesters blocking roads by placing burning tyres and granite blocks. Police said a local BJP office in Kannur was set on fire by miscreants Friday. None were injured in the incidents, they added.

A number of houses of the BJP and the ruling CPI(M) activists were attacked and stones hurled in Pathanamthitta, Kannur, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram.

Prohibitory orders were imposed in Palakkad town and Manjeswaram Taluk of Kasargod district in northern Kerala late Thursday night after protests erupted over the women's entry.

The Sabarimala Karma Samiti, an umbrella organisation of various pro-Hindutva groups, and the BJP Friday decided to intensify their agitation against the state government by organising Rath yatras from January 11-13.

"This is to protest the move to destroy traditions of Sabarimala temple," the organisers said at Kochi.

The yatra will cover 10 districts of the state barring four southern districts, including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha, Samithi leader SJR Kumar said.

Eighteen crore 'makara jyoti' (lighting of lamps) will be lit across the state on January 14 on the occasion of Makaravilakku festival in Sabarimala, he said.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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