20:42 GMT +313 November 2018
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    In this Dec. 1, 2015 photo, Hindu worshippers queue during a pilgrimage at the Sabarimala temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala

    Temple Entry Issue Becomes Volatile in Southern India

    © AP Photo / Hareesh Kumar A S
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    Despite the apex court of India ordering the authorities to allow entry of women inside the temple, the Ayyappa devotees continue to hold the age-old faith that the deity is a celibate and that young women of fertile age should not enter the temple.

    With only a few hours to go for the controversial Sabarimala temple in southern India to open its gates for women of all ages, radical elements have unleashed a spate of violent activities, threatening the law and order of Kerala.

    Numerous battalions of state police have been deployed in the base camps of Nilakkal, Pampa and Pathanamthitta on the way to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, where radical groups, mostly led by women, are stopping young devotees of the fairer sex from proceeding to the temple.

    The annual opening of the gates of the Sabarimala temple is scheduled on Wednesday evening.

    Protesters were seen holding mammoth marches and some were spotted checking buses on route to Sabarimala to forcefully stop women from going to the temple.

    A team of journalists of The News Minute news portal led by its editor, Dhanya Rajendran, was attacked by the radical groups. She took to Twitter to flash the news while many users abused her online in response to her tweet for attempting to go to Sabarimala.

    Several public figures in India have expressed their dismay and worry over hooliganism and force used by the radical groups in stopping the women despite a court order in their favor.

    The leader of the opposition in Kerala's legislative assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, has called for peace and a resolution of the issue without violence.

    "We would be holding mass meetings to make the people aware of the condition. Government's inadequacy is helping the radical group take advantage of the situation," Ramesh Chennithala told Sputnik.

    The Sabarimala temple in the southern state of Kerala in India has been the cause of tension ever since a few public interest litigants filed a petition challenging the ban on the entry of adult women into the temple.

    Last month, the apex court ruled in favor of the litigants and asked the state government to take steps to implement the order.

    Following the order, Hindu radical groups threatened to commit mass suicide attacks to prevent women from entering the shrine of Lord Ayyappa.

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    ancient temple, court order, traditions, violence, protest, Kerala, India
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