KOCHI: One of two Indian women who entered the Sabarimala hill temple in Kerala this month in defiance of a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age alleged she was beaten up by her mother-in-law on Tuesday, police said.
Kanaka Durga, 39, a civil servant, suffered injuries to her head and had to be hospitalised, police said. She claims she was attacked only minutes after she returned to her home from spending a month at undisclosed locations fearing attacks by conservative Hindu groups, police said.
“We received a complaint from Kanaka Durga alleging that she was attacked by family members of her husband when she returned home after entering the temple,” said Jaya Mani, officer in charge of Perinthalmanna police station in Malappuram district, which is in Kerala where the Sabarimala temple is located.
Police were investigating, Mani said.
A second police source said Durga had alleged she was assaulted by the mother-in-law. The mother-in-law had denied the allegation, he said.
Durga did not return calls seeking comment. The family members, including Durga’s mother-in-law, could not be reached for comment.
The Sabarimala temple has been the site of tension since the Supreme Court ruled in late September to end a ban on women and girls aged from 10-50 from entering.
The temple refused to abide by the ruling and subsequent attempts by women to visit were blocked by thousands of devotees.
That was until Bindu Ammini, 40, a law lecturer at Kerala’s Kannur University, and Durga finally succeeded in entering the temple on Jan. 2 through a side entrance in the middle of the night. Some other women have claimed they have got into the temple since then.
Their entry sparked widespread protests and a day-long strike in Kerala led in part by members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
“The attack is a natural reaction of the family members, who are strong believers of the temple’s customs and rituals,” Ammini said.
“Her friends told me that her family members were angry with her action. They have unleashed their anger when they saw her.”