NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The head of a lawyers group fighting for the right of women to enter the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala said on Thursday he had received hundreds of death threats warning him to drop the petition in the Supreme Court.
The popular Hindu temple is one of a few in India which bar women of reproductive age, only allowing entry to girls aged under 10 and women over 50.
The ban came under legal scrutiny after the Indian Young Lawyers’ Association (IYLA) filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking entry for all women, prompting the court on Monday to ask temple authorities to explain the ban.
IYLA President Naushad Ahmed Khan said he had since received over 300 death threats on his cell phone – prompting police to provide him with a personal security guard.
“I have received more than 700 telephone calls, including some calls from international telephone, since Wednesday. These callers are (trying to) force me to withdraw the petition,” Khan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“I am the president of the IYLA, and the plea has been filed by the organisation. I have never been personally involved with this petition,” he said, adding that the question of whether the petition would be withdrawn had not arisen.
Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty, writing by Nita Bhalla, editing by Tim Pearce.
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