Flashpoint Sabarimala temple reopens with 2,300 police on guard

NEW DELHI: Authorities in Kerala deployed 2,300 police on Monday to prevent a repeat of violent clashes last month around one of Hindu’s holiest shrines.
The violence erupted in mid-October when Hindu hardliners blocked women from entering the Sabarimala temple.
This was despite an order from the country’s highest court that females of all ages could enter the site, and not just those below 10 and over 50 years old as before.
Protesters, including women and children, had massed at the bottom of a hill leading to the shrine, threatening and manhandling a handful of women who attempted to reach the site.
Some 2,000 people were detained and the temple was closed after a few days, as scheduled, but reopened on Monday afternoon until Tuesday evening.
“We have made necessary arrangements for smooth visit of all devotees to the temple. At least 2,300 policemen including 100 female officers have been deployed in the region,” Pramod Kumar, Kerala police spokesman, said.
This time no women attempted to make it to the temple, media reports showed.
Hindu traditionalists have been emboldened since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014. At the same time the Supreme Court has issued a number of liberal rulings in recent months. — AFP