More than three million women formed a 385-mile human chain in the state of Kerala in southern India this week, as they protested against a temple policy that banned admission for women.
The chain stretched from the northern tip of the state in Kasaragod to the southern end in Thiruvanthapuram. The protest was organised by Kerala’s left-wing coalition government on Thursday however the disputes on this issue have been going on for three months.
As the protest took place, at least two women were able to enter the temple with over 100 policemen protecting them from the temple worshippers, who threw rocks and harassed the protesters.
The Indian Supreme Court overturned the long running ban of women who were menstruating from the temple, in a landmark ruling last September. The Sabarimala shrine was particularly strict on this rule and had denied all women of aged 10 to 50 entry. Since the ban was overturned women attempting to visit the temple have been attacked by religious zealots. Significant counter-protests in support of the ban have also continued. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has argued that Supreme Court’s decision was an affront to Hindu values.
Critics of the BJP have argued that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi was deliberately pursuing a divisive agenda to shore up support amongst hard-line Hindu nationalists in light of upcoming general elections in April and May.