As Protests Rock Kerala, Sri Lankan Becomes Third Woman To Enter Sabarimala

Unlike the two women who entered before, the 46-year-old Sri Lankan national reportedly climbed the 18 holy steps to the temple.

New Delhi: Two days after two women of menstruating age set foot in the Sabarimala sannidhanam, a 46-year-old woman from Sri Lanka became the third such woman in the temple’s history to offer her payers Lord Ayyappa in the temple.

Unlike Bindu Hariharan (42), an assistant professor at the School of Legal Studies, University of Kannur, and Kanakadurga (44), a Kerala government employee, Sasikala reportedly climbed the 18 holy steps to the temple.

Also read: Sabarimala Protests: Day of Violence Sees Over 700 Arrests; Several Injured

The police confirmed that she witnessed darshan at the sanctum sanctorum at 10:55 pm on the night of January 3, just before the temple closed for the day, alongside her husband.

In CCTV footage released by police sources, the Sri Lankan national can be seen going inside the temple with the offerings kit on her head.

Sasikala claimed she had observed the 41-day “vratham” (penance).

There was some confusion on Thursday night when Sasikala told reporters that she was near the 18 golden steps that lead to the shrine when she was stopped by the police, but the police later said she managed to offer darshan.

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said the state provided protection to the two women who entered earlier because it was obeying the Supreme Court’s order.

On Friday, a transgender, Kayal, who arrived at Pamba at around 6 am, was turned away by the police and not allowed to go to the temple complex following protest from the devotees, the police said.

All along, tempers ran high in Kerala as the state continued to witness large-scale violence due to a hartal called by Hindu outfits. Protests by the BJP and Sabarimala Karma Samithi turned violent at several places in Kozhikode, Kannur, Malappuram, Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram. Police used batons and water cannons to break up protests.

BJP workers pelt stones in Palakkad while protesting the entry of women into Sabarimala. Credit: PTI

Protestors blocked roads and burned tyres to protest against the entry of women into the Lord Ayappa temple. They also vandalised shops, government buildings and offices of the ruling CPI (M) government in the state.

Mediapersons also became victims of the violence. A senior TV reporter was attacked in Palakkad and the cameraperson of another channel was attacked in Thiruvananthapuram.

Also read: Women Walking Into Sabarimala Is Hopefully the First of 2019’s Watershed Moments

A woman journalist was allegedly assaulted by the BJP workers in Thiruvananthapuram while she was covering statewide protests against the entry of two women devotees into Sabarimala.

“It’s politically created violence and an attempt to sabotage the SC verdict. The government cannot tolerate any violence in any form and has to take stern action,” Vijayan said.

(With inputs from PTI)