Woman who made history by entering Kerala’s Sabarimala attacked by mother-in-law, hospitalised

Kanaka Durga, one of the two women who walked into Kerala’s Sabarimala earlier this month and became the first to defy the temple’s ban on women of menstrual age – or between 10 and 50, was attacked by relatives on her return home on Monday. She is admitted in a hospital at Perinthalmanna in Malappuram district, according to news reports.

The 39-year-old reached home on Tuesday morning after nearly two weeks in hiding because of threats by right-wing protesters. Sources say she was hit on her head by her mother-in-law. She is reportedly stable and has been referred for further tests in the hospital.

Earlier, her husband had filed a missing person report and his family had disowned her following her January 2 entry into the hill shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, considered to be a celibate deity.

Bindu Ammini, 40, a law lecturer at Kerala’s Kannur University and Kanaka Durga, a civil servant, made history by becoming the first women below 50 in decades to enter the hilltop shrine. Following threats by hardline groups, the two had been staying in an undisclosed location on the outskirts of Kochi for the past 13 days.

Their entry had sparked widespread protests and a day-long strike in Kerala.

The women – speaking in an undisclosed location on the outskirts of Kochi – had said they were facing threats from protesters, but that they trusted the authorities to keep them safe and planned to return home soon.

“I always say that I trust the police persons, the state government of Kerala and also our democratic society of Kerala,” Bindu had said.

The temple has been the site of tension since the Supreme Court ruled on September 28, 2018, to end the age restriction on women. The court order has not been accepted by the devotees and protesters who believe women should not be allowed near the shrine’s deity, Lord Ayyappa.

Since the court order, all attempts by women to visit the shrine were blocked by thousands of devotees – until the two women entered the shrine before dawn on January 2, escorted by policemen.