12-hour strike in Kerala over Sabarimala row

Pathanamthitta (Kerala) [India], Oct 18 (ANI): The Sabarimala Protection Committee has called for a 12-hour statewide strike on Thursday in Kerala. The Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, which opened to devotees on Wednesday, witnessed incidents of violence and protests in Pamba, Nilakkal, Sannidhanam, and Elavungal. A bus carrying journalists and other passengers was allegedly vandalised by protesters at Laka near Nilakkal base camp. The protesters were lathi-charged as they gathered at the Nilakkal base camp of Pathanamthitta district. Stones were also pelted. Amid intensifying protest in the region against the entry of women in the menstrual age group in the Sabarimala temple, the state administration has imposed Section 144 in four places - Sannidhanam, Pamba, Nilakkal, and Elavungal- prohibiting the assembly of more than four people in an area. Meanwhile, women above 50 years of age were seen entering the Lord Ayyappa temple on Wednesday evening. Women between 10 to 50 years of age did not arrive due to security concerns. The shrine of Lord Ayyappa, located on the mountain range of the Western Ghats, opened for the first time today after the Supreme Court verdict allowed women of all ages to enter the temple. The temple will close on October 22. Scores of protesters, including women, have been up in arms since the verdict was pronounced. Traditionally, women of menstruating age were barred from entering the temple. As a mark of protest against the verdict, the devotees stopped vehicles and prevented women belonging to the 'prohibited' age group from moving towards the holy hill.
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