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A third woman has entered a flashpoint temple in southern India, stoking tensions after two days of clashes between Hindu hardliners and police.

The temple is one of a few in India that bars women and girls between the ages of 10 and 50, saying that menstruating women are impure.

Discrimination against menstruating women is common in some parts of South Asia, where they are forbidden from entering houses or temples and taking part in festivals and community events.

Some protesters argue that the court ruling goes against the wishes of the temple's deity, Lord Ayappa, and reacted angrily.

The Communist Party of India, which runs the state government in Kerala, welcomed the decision.

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The Sabarimala temple in Kerala state has been at the centre of a prolonged showdown between Hindu devotees and women activists over access to the shrine.

"Gender justice is a big issue facing our society, and the implementation of this judgement helps to implement gender justice", she said of their visit. On Thursday, police had said, as reported by The Hindu, "She finished her darshan at around 9.30 p.m. and reached Pampa safely by 11 p.m". The narrative being set "where men are made to feel small and anti-feminist if they pass any order which is logically correct though religion can not be seen from any logical angle", she said. "I am not afraid".

The site, which attracts millions of visitors every year, is one of the most prominent in the country.

She was even forced to reveal to right-wing protesters she had her uterus removed in a hysterectomy, and reminding them she therefore does not qualify as a menstruating women.

When asked about her mother's criticism for undertaking the trip to Sabarimala, Bindu said her mother has got all rights to express her views. Handing down the ruling in September, he said religion stood for "dignity and identity" and women should have equal right to practice it. "Her response was just a way of survival", the source said.

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And then there's the politics, as orthodox and secular forces clash ahead of India's general elections later this year.

State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP of attempting to scare women by resorting to violence.

On Wednesday, hundreds of women in Mumbai, India's financial capital, formed a human chain to express solidarity with the women in Kerala.

As the state plunged into chaos due to violence, governor P. Sathasivam sought an "urgent report" from the chief minister. "We were aware and watched the situation", Balram Kumar Upadhyay, a police official, told AFP.

The women - a university professor and a government employee, both in their 40s - entered the inner sanctum of the Sabarimala temple around 3:45 a.m., according to a local news agency which released video of the visit.

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