India arrests 750 in flashpoint temple clashes

5 million women form human chain in India to protest temple ban

Indian women enter Hindu temple, defying centuries-old ban

The protests come after a ruling by India's supreme court the declared it is illegal for women to be denied entry to the temple on the grounds that celibate deity Lord Ayyappa is offended by menstruation.

The women themselves have now been given police protection. But it is not clear if she climbed the "pathinettampadi" (holy 18 steps) to reach the sanctum sanctorum. It was her second attempt to visit the shrine: on an earlier try on December 24, she was forced to return by protesters.

"We are a group of like-minded people".

They (sangh parivar) are trying to destroy that.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held a press conference in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram over the recent flurry of protests after two women successfully entered the Sabarimala temple yesterday.

Sasikala said that she had performed the 48-day long penance too, but no one listed to her pleas to let her enter the temple. "They are entitled to their views", she said.

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"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 Kerala police have launched 'Operation Broken Window, ' this is a special drive across the state to deal with the situation", Kumar said. The police spokesperson said demonstrators blocked several roads and threw rocks at officers. Hindu traditionalist also took to the streets in protest.

With violence continuing in some parts, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala Friday alleged the home department and government had been a "complete failure".

"Overall, the situation is calm, especially around the Sabarimala temple where large number of devotees continue to visit", he said.

To reach the temple, devotees must walk almost three miles uphill, and Hariharan began the trek at midnight.

Four transgenders had recently offered prayers at Sabarimala wearing black sarees.

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The Supreme Court in September ordered the lifting of the ban on women and girls entering the hill temple, which draws millions of worshippers a year.

"This is a massive victory for the women of India", Manithi Selvi, who tried unsuccessfully to access the shrine last month, tells Al Jazeera's Saberin.

Earlier this week, as many as five million female protesters took part in a peaceful "women's wall" protest organized in part by the CPIM in support of gender equality and the right of women to enter the temple freely. None were injured in the incidents, they added.

"His injuries were serious and he died late Wednesday night".

The Sabarimala Karma Samiti, an umbrella organisation of various pro-Hindutva groups, and the BJP Friday made a decision to intensify their agitation against the state government by organising Rath yatras from January 11-13. "Even the prime minister of the country has supported the Sabarimala tradition".

Journalists were also assaulted during the disturbances in the state's capital, Thiruvananthapuram, and nearby Kollam city.

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