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Kerala hartal: 46-yr-old Lankan woman reaches Sabarimala but not allowed entry despite claiming she 'isn't menstruating'

A 46-year-old Sri Lankan woman, who had reportedly offered prayers at the Sabarimala temple on Thursday, claimed that she had climbed the holy steps on Friday, but was not allowed to go any further.

A day after widespread protests broke out after two women entered the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday, a few media reports said that Sasikala, a woman of Tamil origin, also offered prayers at the Kerala temple on Thursday night. However, many reports said that the woman claimed she had been turned back by the police.

The Hindu and The Times of India reported that Kerala Police confirmed that Sasikala, had finished darshan at the shrine after climbing the "18 holy steps" without any hindrance. “She finished her darshan at around 9.30 pm and reached Pampa safely by 11 pm" according to The Hindu's report.

The report also said, "The police said the woman had booked her darshan time in advance. Sasikala and her family had used the electronic queue system devised by the police and had sent her age-related records early. A senior police officer said plainclothes officers, including women, gave Sasikala and her family covert security."

The Times of India reported that the police team accompanying Sasikala and her husband had handed them over to a new team at Marakootam, which is a kilometre away from the shrine. The report said, "Some protesters who gathered at Marakoottam were under the impression that the mission had been aborted."

 Kerala hartal: 46-yr-old Lankan woman reaches Sabarimala but not allowed entry despite claiming she isnt menstruating

Protests erupted after two women entered the temple on Wednesday. PTI

India Today also reported that Sasikala was carrying a medical certificate attesting that she had reached menopause and was not of "menstruating" age.

However, The Indian Express reported that Sasikala had clarified that she had been sent back by the police without being able to offer prayers. A report by The News Minute said, "Sasikala told TV channels stationed at Pamba that she did not worship and the police had sent her back" and quoted her as saying, "I am a devotee. I wanted to pray, I had completed the 48-day vratham (penance), who are they to send me back?"

On Wednesday, a decades-old ban on entry for women of menstruating age was broken when Bindu and Kanakadurga, both in their 40s, defied threats from saffron organisations and offered prayers at Sabarimala. Claiming to be devotees, the women said that they were not tools of anyone and dismissed as "baseless" the allegations that they were playing into the hands of police and the government. Kanakadurga also said, "Going to Sabarimala was my own decision."

Dismissing the conspiracy angle being alleged by the Sangh Parivar outfits and the Opposition Congress that the two women were playing into the hands of the police and the government, the women said they "used" the police machinery to enter Sabarimala on the basis of the 28 September Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the hill shrine.

"We do not know whether chief minister had any role in our reaching the shrine," they said. When asked whether they were devotees or activists, Kanakadurga said there an activist can also be a devotee. "Activists are also devotees. If some activist wants to visit a temple, they can. The 28 September verdict of the Supreme Court allows all women to go, whether they are activists or devotees," she said.

Bindu told the channel that they were adamant and wanted to visit the shrine after failing in their first attempt on 24 December when they were forced to return due to violent protests. "If we had gone back to our respective homes, we were sure that we may never visit Sabarimala. So we sought help from the police and SPs from two districts," she said.

After their entry, temple authorities shut the shrine to perform a "purification" ritual for an hour.

A dawn-to-dusk 12-hour hartal called by Hindu outfits began on Thursday morning in protest. The hartal, which began at 6 am, has been called by Sabarimala Karma Samithi, an umbrella organisation of various pro-Hindutva groups, spearheading protests against the Supreme Court's 28 September verdict, and Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP).

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 04, 2019 11:16:37 IST