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Violent protests have paralyzed Southern India. Over 600 demonstrators have been taken into custody, all because these two women walked into a temple. Conservative Hindus took to the streets in cities across Kerala and neighboring states calling for statewide disruption. They're protesting against the state government for allowing two women to enter the Sabra Mala temple on Wednesday morning.
While demonstrations were largely peaceful Thursday the day before police clad in riot gear used water cannons and tear gas to dispel crowds. Many shops closed their
bus services were halted and taxi drivers refused rides over fears of attacks. Kerala's Sabra Mala temple draws millions of worshipers a year.
But it's been a flashpoint of violence for months. In September, India Supreme Court ordered an ancient ban that forbids access to women of menstruating age to be lifted. But the temple has refused to abide by the ruling. Thousands of devotees have since blocked attempts by women to visit the site.
In the early hours of Wednesday, two women were escorted by police into the temple through a side gate without being spotted by devotees guarding it. Protest fled soon afterwards.>>
> It is the government's responsibility to give protection to women. The government has fulfilled this constitutional responsibility.>> The stance of Kerala's left wing state government has drawn strong criticism from India's political establishment. Including Prime Minister Modi's BJP and the opposition Congress. The uproar has put religion squarely on the political agenda months before a general election which is due by May.