Third woman has entered Indian flashpoint temple

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A Hindu priest temporarily shut down the temple to perform "purification rituals".

On Wednesday following the protest, two women ages 42 and 44, accompanied by officers, became the first to enter Sabarimala, CNN reports.

However, Sasikala told TV channels stationed at Pamba that she did not worship and the police had sent her back.

The woman, identified in reports as Sasikala, is 46, but has reached menopause. The women came together in an act of solidarity to call for respect, equality and, more specifically, entrance into one of the region's most holy buildings.

A religious devotee, she wanted to visit Sabarimala and pray to the deity, Ms Durga said.

"We are extremely hurt that they [the Kerala government] did this midnight drama". We are trying to rebuild our state, a rejuvenated Kerala, a new Kerala.

Vijayan laughed off the vicious attacks on him by a section of the Sangh parivar who had referred to his caste and the humble background of his father. "Do not fall for their tricks", he said.

Thiruvananthapuram: Police in southern India said Friday that a third woman has entered a flashpoint temple, stoking tensions after two days of clashes involving Hindu hardliners and police.

Kerala police on Friday said they will step up security for the chief minister following threats over the temple controversy.

"We arrested more than 600 people on Wednesday from Kochi and four other adjoining districts and took almost 300 into preventive custody", Sakhare said, and police were ready to offer protection to those who wanted to conduct routine business on Thursday.

"The person who died was part of a BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) demonstration yesterday and got injured when some stones were hurled (at the demonstrators)", Kerala police spokesman Pramod Kumar told AFP. Protests were reported in several other cities.

Violent protests were witnessed during the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by pro-Hindu outfits on Thursday.

Police deployed tear gas, charged at demonstrators with batons, and even ran down two activists with a police vehicle.

Four transgenders had recently offered prayers at Sabarimala wearing black sarees. A little over three weeks from now, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a batch of petitions seeking a review of its order striking down a ban on women of childbearing age from entering the temple.

Indian Hindu devotees are pictured at the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala in the southern state of Kerala on November 16, 2018. But despite the ruling, opponents and conservatives continued to block women aged 10 to 50 from entering.

The two women are now under police protection. None were injured in the incidents, they added. In Adoor in Pathanamthitta district, 40 houses were attacked.

They also said their aim was Sabarimala darshan and they achieved it without facing any trouble from the devotees. A secretariat march will be held on January 18. State BJP chief P S Sreedharan Pillai said the Kerala government will face the "wrath" of Lord Ayyappa.