Protests erupted in Kerala state after two women successfully entered the Sabarimala temple complex on Wednesday, January 2. The women arrived at the temple around 03:45 (local time), making them the first women to enter the site. The temple complex was closed following the visit and will be closed on Thursday, January 3. On Wednesday, protesters marched to government buildings and blocked traffic in the capital Thiruvananthapuram; protests and roadblocks were also reported at Kollam and Ernakulam. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters in Thiruvananthapuram following clashes with political rivals.
The Sabarimala Karma Samati, a Hindu group behind many recent protests, also called for a statewide hartal, or strike, on Thursday, January 3. Transportation, including taxi services, and business disruptions are possible. Further demonstrations in Kerala state, including at Sabarimala, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kochi, are possible on Thursday and in the coming days and weeks. Clashes between different political movements and their supporters, as well as with security forces, cannot be ruled out.
On September 28, the Indian Supreme Court overturned a ban on women between the ages of 10 and 50 entering the Sabarimala temple, a Hindu shrine to the god Ayyappan. Since then, ongoing demonstrations have been held across Kerala state to protest the decision and prevent women from entering the temple complex. Protests at the temple complex itself have been banned, though demonstrations in other locations, including the town of Sabarimala, have continued.
Individuals in Kerala state are advised to monitor updates to the situation, avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, and anticipate transportation disruptions and a heightened security presence in the event of protests.