Lakhs of women participated in the 620 km-long ‘Women’s wall’, organised by the Kerala government, which stretched from the northern tip of the state in Kasaragod to the southern end in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.
State health minister KK Shylaja led the chain at Kasaragod while senior CPM leader Brinda Karat was the last person at the end of the chain in Thiruvananthapuram.
The wall was attacked in Kasargode’s Chettukund by BJP and RSS workers who pelted stones at the women and set fire to the dry grass on railway tracks near the wall, Mathrubhumi reported.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan garlanded the statue of social reformer ‘Ayyankali’ before the formal start of the event. Karat and CPI leader Annie Raja also paid floral tributes at the statue.
Several prominent personalities, including film actors like Rima Kallingal, Nina Kurup, Mala Parvathy and Sajitha Madathil, took part in the Women’s Wall.
Participants took a pledge to uphold gender equality and renaissance values.
At the public gathering after the event in Thiruvananthapuram, Karat said, “Kerala has built a wall of resistance against the dark forces that wish to push women back to the dark ages. This message of the wall is not just for the women of Kerala, but for all the women of India.”
Thousands of men also lined up parallel to the wall as an act of solidarity, the Indian Express reported.
In Kasargode, BJP-RSS workers had set fire to some dried grass near the National Highway where the women were standing to participate in the wall. When police tried to chase them away, they pelted stones at the women and police, the district police chief told PTI.
Three police personnel were injured in the incident, police said.
Media personnel of two television channels were also attacked by the activists, who reportedly forced them to delete the visuals of the incident. Police fired in the air and burst teargas shells to disperse the workers, PTI reported.
Meanwhile, Nair Service Society general secretary G Sukumaran Nair said the wall would turn Kerala into the Devil’s country, reported Indian Express.
What is the Women’s Wall?
The Kerala government came up with initiative in response to protests against its decision to implement the Supreme Court verdict, allowing all women to pray at the Ayyappa shrine. The government expected over 30 lakh women to take part in the event.
The idea was suggested at a meeting called by the state government following the massive protests by right-wing parties and a section of devotees.
“The protests by communal forces against women’s entry in Sabarimala had prompted the government and other progressive organisations to conceive the idea of a Women’s Wall in the state,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Women, cutting across caste and religion, would join the wall “to save Kerala from being dragged back into the era of darkness, he said.
Though a controversy had erupted following reports that the government had set apart Rs 50 crore for the event, the Chief Minister had categorically denied it, saying no government fund would be utilised for the same.
The event was organised by the ruling LDF along with over 176 other socio-political organisations, including the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) and Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS).
(With PTI inputs)