Bindu Ammini – who entered Sabarimala last year – attacked with pepper spray

Bindu Ammini – who was among the first two women to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple last year – was attacked with pepper spray on her face on Tuesday morning outside the office of the Ernakulam city commissionerate. The attacker is reported to be a right-wing activist.

Bindu Ammini is part of a seven-member group that will today visit the Sabarimala temple. The ban on women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple has become a major political issue in the state and beyond. The ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) had earlier supported the entry of women when, in September 2018, a five-judge constitution bench had allowed women of all ages to enter the temple in a landmark judgement. However, this had led to massive protests all over the state and only a few women were able to enter. The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had opposed the entry of women.

Earlier this month, a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court gave a 3:2 verdict stating that a seven-judge bench should review the matter. Ammini will join Pune-based activist Trupti Desai and six other women who reached Kochi airport at 4 am on Tuesday.

After the recent judgement, the government has said that they will not arrange for any securities for Desai and her team. Desai said that she is carrying a copy of the court order from 2018 which allowed women to enter the temple.

The Kerala Devaswom Board Minister Kadakampally Surendran had earlier said that those who want protection in visiting the temple would need to carry the court order.

Desai said that whether or not she gets any protection, she will leave Kochi only after entering Sabarimala. The activist said that they have selected this day for visiting the temple as November 26 is celebrated as Constitution Day in India, and preventing women from visiting Sabarimala temple would be a blow to their constitutional rights.

The recent judgement has not put a stay on the earlier order. But even as the earlier order is still valid, a section of the government has said that there is “some confusion”.

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