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CHAUVINIST protesters blocked roads and pelted police with stones in Kerala today after police escorted two women to worship in the Sabarimala temple.
The women would have been covered by a ban on women of menstruating age entering the temple that was overturned by India’s Supreme Court last September.
Kerala’s Communist-led government’s determination to enforce the court ruling and allow women access has led to clashes with supporters of the Hindu nationalist BJP of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Keralan Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said it was police’s job to protect female worshippers from attack.
The women’s visit comes a day after the CPI-M organised a “women’s wall” five million strong and nearly 400 miles long to take a stand for women’s rights. In Mumbai today, hundreds of women formed a human chain in solidarity with their Keralan sisters.
Mr Vijayan praised the women’s wall for having won global attention and said it was “a landmark in the struggle to improve the social status of women.”
He dismissed the suggestion that the wall was a form of “identity politics,” saying: “The fight against casteist forces and gender inequalities has been an integral part of class struggle for communists. We see women’s liberation as part of social liberation.”
Mr Vijayan noted that the wall would not have been possible without active support from many religious organisations, including Hindu ones.
But the temple wars dragged on, with right-wing Hindu groups calling for a strike in protest tomorrow.
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