- Kanaka Durga, 39, had returned home after nearly 2 weeks in hiding
- She was hit on head, sources said; She is reportedly stable
- Kanaka Durga, Bindu Ammini first women below 50 at Sabarimala in decades
On January 2, Kanaka Durga walked into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, defying a decades-old ban on women of menstrual age - between 10 and 50 - and made history. It was a huge security risk after months of violent protests to block women, but she and Bindu Ammini made the journey with heavy police escort, unscathed.
On Tuesday morning, she entered her home after nearly two weeks in hiding because of threats by right-wing protesters. This time she was attacked. She alleges her mother-in-law came at her with a wooden stick and beat her until she could barely stand. Then she was thrown out.
"She said who is there? When I replied it was me, she came from the kitchen, took a wooden stick and started beating me. She said I'd slept with many people, they (mother-in-law and husband) didn't want to be at that house and started abusing me," said Kanaka Durga, a 39-year-old government employee, at a hospital where she is being treated for head wounds.
"They beat me 10-12 times and I was hit on my head as well. I couldn't even stand properly after being hit; still they dragged me out and shut the door," she says.
Kanaka Durga says she didn't try to stop her as blows rained on her head, face and back. "It's really painful and I can barely move."
A case has been filed against her mother-in-law.
Kanaka Durga, along with 40-year-old Bindu Ammini, are the first women below 50 in decades to enter the hilltop shrine. For the past 13 days, they had been staying in an undisclosed location on the outskirts of Kochi, under state protection.
The temple has been the site of tension since the Supreme Court ruled on September 28 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.
Kanaka Durga also faced opposition from her family, friends and the police. "I knew my life will be in danger but I still wanted to go into the temple. We are proud that we have made it easier for women who want to go to Sabarimala now," she had told NDTV after her daring visit.
"It's about devotion but it's also about gender equality," she said.
After their visit, there were widespread protests in Kerala and a day-long strike led by right-wing groups and in part by members of the BJP and the Congress.