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Sabarimala row live updates: BJP, Congress slam Kerala govt, call women devotees who entered shrine as Maoists

Two women, Kanakadurga (44) and Bindu (42), created history be stepping into the hallowed precincts guarded by police.

Sabarimala row live updates: BJP, Congress slam Kerala govt, call women devotees who entered shrine as Maoists
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A dawn-to-dusk 12-hour hartal called by Hindu outfits began Thursday morning in protest against the entry of two women of menstruating age into the Sabarimala temple of Lord Ayyappa. 

Two women, Kanakadurga (44) and Bindu (42), created history be stepping into the hallowed precincts guarded by police three months after the Supreme Court's historic judgement lifting the ban on entry of girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age into the shrine of Lord Ayyappa, its "eternally celibate" deity.

The BJP is supporting the shutdown while the Congress-led UDF is observing a "black day" on Thursday. The security has been tightened in view of the hartal called by several organisations. Meanwhile, state DGP Loknath Behara has warned of strict action against those indulging in violence during the hartal.

As the news of the women entering the shrine spread like wildfire from the hill shrine, protests erupted at several places, with Hindu right-wing activists blocking highways and forcing the closure of shops and markets. BJP and CPI(M) workers clashed in front of the Secretariat for over five hours Wednesday as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse them. 

Here are the live updates:

# Asianet cameraperson Biju at Trivandrum, Kerala, attacked by BJP workers during the protest.

"We're observing 'black day' in Kerala today. State govt is challenging the sentiments of devotees of Sabarimala. With the sponsor of state govt, these two young women entered the temple. They are activists, they are maoists," Congress MP K Suresh. 

"7 police vehicles and 79 KSRTC buses have been destroyed and 39 police personnel attacked, till now. Most of the persons attacked were women. Women media persons were also attacked," added the Kerala CM.

"It is government's responsibility to give protection to women. The government has fulfilled this constitutional responsibility. Sangh Parivar is trying to make Sabarimala into a clash zone," said Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

# Kerala government is taking measures every day to send someone there to disturb its rituals. It is festival time when per day 1-2 lakh people used to come to temple but due to the action of the government, it has reduced to 10-15,000," said PGS Varma, member of royal Pandalam family.

# Supreme Court refuses to give an urgent hearing to a mentioning by lawyer, PV Dinesh, seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the Sabarimala Temple priest for purification of temple premises after entry of two women on Wednesday. SC said the matter has been fixed for January 22.

# Two people have been arrested and two others detained for attacking a Special Branch Women Police personnel on duty in rural area of Ernakulam district on Wednesday night.

# BJP holds a protest march in Kochi against the entry of women in the temple.

# NK Premachandran, KC Venugopal, Suresh Kodikunnil and PK Kunhalikutty move an adjournment motion in Lok Sabha.

# "Yesterday two women entered Sabarimala temple. They weren't devotees. They were Maoists. CPM with selected policemen prepared an action plan and then saw to it that the women go inside the temple. This is a planned conspiracy by Maoists in league with Kerala government and CPM," said BJP leader V Muraleedharan.

At least two people have been detained by police in connection with Wednesday's violence and stone pelting incident in Pandalam.

BJP Kerala president PS Sreedharan Pillai, "We will carry on with our agitation in a peaceful manner and abide by the law of the land."

As the hartal is being observed in Kerala, ambulances are used to help stranded passengers at Thiruvananthapuram Central as bus services have been affected in the area.

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has stopped its bus operations to Kerala for the day in view of the hartal called by various organisations.

# The security has been tightened in view of the hartal called by several organisations. Meanwhile, state DGP Loknath Behara has warned of strict action against those indulging in violence during the hartal.

Various universities, including Kerala, Mahatma Gandhi, Calicut, and Kannur have postponed their examinations scheduled for Thursday.

Merchants' organisations have said they would not cooperate with the hartal and keep shops and business establishments open.

A 55-year-old Sabarimala Karma Samiti worker, who was seriously injured in stone throwing, during a clash between CPIM and BJP workers, at Pandalam, died late Wednesday night. A police investigation is currently underway.

# The BJP is supporting the shutdown while the Congress-led UDF is observing a "black day" on Thursday. 

# Auto-rickshaws and two-wheelers were plying at the railway station in the state capital and various other places. But in Kozhikode, protesters blocked vehicles and burnt tyres in the morning.

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 September 28 verdict, and Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP).

Two women, Kanakadurga (44) and Bindu (42), created history be stepping into the hallowed precincts guarded by police three months after the Supreme Court's historic judgement lifting the ban on entry of girls and women between 10 and 50 years of age into the shrine of Lord Ayyappa, its "eternally celibate" deity. As the news spread like wildfire from the hill shrine, protests erupted at several places, with Hindu right-wing activists blocking highways and forcing the closure of shops and markets.