In this photo taken on January 11, 2019, Bindu Ammini (R) and Kanakadurga (L), the two Indian women who entered the Sabarimala Ayyapa temple, pose for photographs during an interview with the media in Kochi in the southern state of Kerala. - Bindu Ammini and Kanakadurga have moved to more than 10 safe houses since they infuriated Hindu traditionalists by entering one of India's holiest temples that for generations banned women of menstruating age. (Photo by STR / AFP) / TO GO WITH India-women-temple-politics,INTERVIEW by Chintha Mary Anil
In this photo taken on January 11, 2019, Bindu Ammini (R) and Kanakadurga (L), the two Indian women who entered the Sabarimala Ayyapa temple, pose for photographs during an interview with the media in Kochi in the southern state of Kerala. - Bindu Ammini and Kanakadurga have moved to more than 10 safe houses since they infuriated Hindu traditionalists by entering one of India's holiest temples that for generations banned women of menstruating age. (Photo by STR / AFP) / TO GO WITH India-women-temple-politics,INTERVIEW by Chintha Mary Anil

Thiruvananthapuram: Controversy erupted in Kerala after the CPI(M)-led LDF government Friday submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court claiming 51 women in menstrual age entered the Sabarimala temple during the ongoing annual pilgrimage season.

The BJP, the Sabarimala Karma Samiti and the Pandalam royal family, associated with the Lord Ayyappa temple, came down heavily on the state government saying there were discrepancies in the age of the women devotees mentioned in the affidavit. This is the first time the government has stated that 51 women in the previously barred age group have entered the temple.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran Friday said here that 7,564 women had registered online for visiting the hill-top shrine. “As per the virtual ‘queue’ facility reports, 51 women between the age group of 10-50 have visited the temple. However, we don’t know whether all of them have managed to reach the Sannidhanam (temple complex) and offered prayers or not,” he told reporters here.

Strongly reacting to the submission in the apex court, the main opposition Congress and the BJP hit out at the LDF government, alleging it was lying in the affidavit. BJP state President P S Sreedharan Pillai termed the government’s submission as “the biggest lie of the century.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Friday while hearing the petitions of 42-year-old Bindu, and Kanakadurga, 44, who had entered the Sabarimala shrine on January 2, directed the Kerala Police to provide round-the-clock security to two women who had entered the Sabarimala temple.

The state had witnessed widespread violent protests for several days from January 2 after the LDF government confirmed that two women in menstrual age entered the shrine following the September 28 apex court order allowing women of all ages into the shrine. Kanaka Duraga and Bindu, aged 44 and 42 respectively, had entered the temple in the wee hours of January 2. This was followed by a Sri Lankan woman Sasikala offering prayers at the temple.

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