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Right-wing groups protest against the entry of women in Sabarimala Temple. (Express photo)

A collective of leading writers, intellectuals and academicians in Kerala Wednesday called for legal proceedings against the chief priest of the Sabarimala temple for closing the sanctum santorum of the shrine and conducting ‘purification rituals’, hours after two women below the age of 50 entered the temple in the early hours of Wednesday.

Nearly three months after the Supreme Court verdict opened the gates of women of all ages at Sabarimala, two women, escorted by police officials in plain clothes, offered prayers at the temple. Hours later, the chief priest or the ‘thantri’ abruptly closed the temple doors for about an hour to conduct the purification rituals.

“This is against gender equality, is anti-women and a naked violation of the Supreme Court. The fact that the chief priest did not take the permission of the Travancore Devaswom Board (which administers the temple) or the state cabinet before conducting the rituals raised the urgency of the matter. By recognising it as a contempt of court and extremely casteist in nature, we demand that the government take necessary legal action against the chief,” a statement by the collective read.

The collective also requested the society and the public at large to rise up against the actions of the right-wing forces and oppose the call for a hartal scheduled Thursday.

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“After the entry of the two women, communal forces have unleashed violence across the state. We hope that the state’s secular and democratic section of the public would protest strongly and extensively against these communal forces,” it said.

Among those who signed the statement include MGS Narayanan, K Ajitha, Sunil P Ilayidom, Rafeek Ahmed, R B Sreekumar, Sachidanandan and over 30 others.

The Sabarimala Karma Samiti, an RSS-backed outfit spearheading the protests against the entry of women of menstrual age at the temple, has invoked a dawn-to-dusk shutdown across Kerala Thursday. However, a section of the traders’ organisations and tourism sector firms have promised to boycott the shutdown.

At several places across Kerala, the BJP and right-wing outfits clashed against the police, pelted stones at government buses and showed black flags to ministers in the ruling Left government.

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