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Millions of women in the southern Indian state of Kerala have formed a 385-mile long “wall” in protest against a ban on females between 10 and 50 at the Sabarimala temple.

Footage has emerged showing part of the human chain in the city of Thrissur after the “women’s wall” was organised by Kerala state’s left-wing coalition government on Tuesday.

Local media reports suggested some in the chain were heckled and stoned by right-wing activists.

Officials told the BBC that about five million women had helped to form the 385-mile (620km) chain, which stretched along the length of Kerala from its northern tip of Kasaragod to its southern end in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.

Women form part of the 385-mile line in the city of Kochi in Kerala
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Women form part of the 385-mile line in the city of Kochi in Kerala

Thousands of men also formed a second “human wall” to show solidarity, the Times of India reported.

It came as protests broke out after two women secretly breached a blockade to enter the Hindu Sabarimala temple, which is a major pilgrimage site, in part of an ongoing row earlier on Wednesday.

Devotees have been enraged by an Indian Supreme Court decision to overturn an earlier ban on women aged between 10 and 50.

Video footage has shown the two women entering the Sabarimala temple
Image:
Video footage has shown the two women entering the Sabarimala temple

In 1991, the Kerala High Court had legalised the ban which forbade women of menstruating age from visiting the site because temple authorities believe it disrespects the celibate nature of the deity worshipped.

The temple has been at the centre of an increasingly angry showdown between Hindu traditionalists who support the longstanding ban and women activists who oppose it.

The two women entered the temple, which is a four-hour uphill trek from the nearest village, under police protection just before dawn.

The women entered the shrine under police protection
Image:
The women entered the shrine under police protection

Images show Kanaka Durga and Bindu Ammini hurrying inside with their heads bowed and wearing black tunics.

One of the women, who both remain under police guard, later told reporters: “We did not enter the shrine by climbing the 18 holy steps but went through the staff gate.”

Kerala state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said: “It is a fact that the women entered the shrine.

“Police are bound to offer protection to anyone wanting to worship at the shrine.”

Protests have taken place across Kerala after two women entered the Sabarimala  temple
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Protests have taken place across Kerala after two women entered the Sabarimala temple

Violent protests broke out across the southern state with Indian police firing tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons.

Clashes were reported between scores of people in front of the state parliament in Thiruvananthapuram.

Protests with sporadic violence were also reported in several other towns across the state, local media said.

The temple head ordered the shrine closed for a purification ritual after news of the women’s entry spread.

Men queue to entered the Sabarimala shrine which sits at the top of a four-hour uphill trek
Image:
Men queue to entered the Sabarimala shrine which sits at the top of a four-hour uphill trek

Sabarimala reopened after around an hour.

The attempts to enter the temple and resulting protests have become a flashpoint as some Hindu hardliners in the nationalist BJP-led country try to defend what they see as core values in Hindu-majority India.

Others in the secular nation have challenged those beliefs as incompatible with a modern way of life.

The Indian Supreme Court ruled in September that the temple must open its doors to women of all ages, but right-wing protesters attacked female visitors and and prevented them from entering.

Repeated efforts by women to enter the shrine after the ruling have been rebuffed by Hindu devotees with police having to step in to escort them out.

In October, devotees clashed with police in a town near the temple leading to the arrest of more than 2,000 people.

The Supreme Court is to start hearing a legal challenge to its ruling on 22 January.

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Deloitte Football Money League 2019: Real Madrid richest ahead of Barcelona and Manchester United | Business News

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Real Madrid have replaced Manchester United as the world’s wealthiest club, according to the latest Deloitte Football Money League.

Manchester United slipped into third spot after generating £590m – representing a comparatively low two per cent year-on-year increase.

Meanwhile, neighbours Manchester City retained their fifth-place ranking with revenues of £504m – an 11 per cent rise from 2016/17 figures.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich ranked fourth for a second year running with £557m, while Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain climbed one place into sixth spot on £480m.

Premier League leaders Liverpool recorded the biggest income increase from clubs in the top 10, with profits soaring 25 per cent to £455m, while Chelsea also achieved an impressive 22 per cent growth with £448m.

Manchester United have slipped to third
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Manchester United have slipped to third

Arsenal (£389m) dropped three places into ninth spot after missing out on Champions League football for the first time in 20 years, but narrowly trumped north London rivals Tottenham (£379m).

Everton (£189m), West Ham (£175m) and Newcastle (£179m) also made the top 20, with Rafa Benitez’s side recording a chart-topping 108 per cent increase in revenue – up from £86m in 2016/17.

Other clubs to make the annual index include Juventus (£350m), Borussia Dortmund (£281m), Atletico Madrid (£270m), Inter Milan (£249m), Roma (£222m), Schalke (£216m) and AC Milan (£184m).

Deloitte Football Money League 2019
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Deloitte Football Money League 2019

Dan Jones, head of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “Real Madrid’s outstanding financial performance in 2017/18 is built on their long history of success on the pitch, most recently three consecutive Champions League titles.

“This has enabled the club to continue to drive commercial revenue as the appetite to partner with Europe’s most successful clubs remains stronger than ever.”

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Five people killed in shooting at Florida bank | US News

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Five people have been killed at a bank in Florida after a gunman opened fire.

The gunman, identified as Zephan Xaver, 21, called police after firing shots inside the SunTrust bank in Sebring, Florida, and eventually surrendered.

Karl Hoglund, Sebring police chief, said the shooting happened at about 12.30pm ET (17.30GMT).

Xaver called police to tell them he had fired shots, according to authorities.

Negotiators failed to convince him to leave the bank, at which point the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team entered the building and continued to speak to him.

He surrendered and is in custody. His motive is not clear.

Mr Hoglund said: “Today has been a tragic day in our community.

“We’ve suffered significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.”

No information has been released about the victims.

CNN reported there had been no danger to the surrounding areas.

Ron DeSantis, Florida governor, said he was asking the state department of law enforcement to help local police.

Sue Malliano, a spokesman for the SunTrust bank, said: “We are working closely with officials and seeking to take care of everyone affected at our Sebring, Florida branch.”

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Troops return to Bulawayo with a vengeance | World News

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A week of protest, violence and national trauma in Zimbabwe began last week in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo.

It was here on the morning of 14 January that protesters took to the streets after President Emerson Mnangagwa’s administration raised fuel prices by 150%.

Seized with fury, demonstrators blocked roads and occupied neighbourhoods – and their protests would lead to city-wide looting and rioting.

Shops and business in large swathes of the city were destroyed or stripped bare. I asked the owner of one supermarket in an area called Nkeita what had happened to the police.

“They came late, they were late. Everything was gone when they got here,” he replied.

Business owners told me that they were abandoned by the police and the army for the first three or four days.

Former MP David Coltart thinks the authorities hand over Bulawayo to thugs
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Former MP David Coltart thinks the authorities handed over Bulawayo to thugs

Government critics, like lawyer and former opposition MP David Coltart, think that the authorities decided to hand over this independent-minded community to thugs and criminal elements.

More from Emmerson Mnangagwa

“I have seen the destruction of food outlets on an industrial scale.

“Having represented the people of Bulawayo for many years, I cannot believe the people themselves would have done this because they would have harmed themselves.

“Some 80% of food outlets in working class areas were destroyed. The capacity of these businesses to open again was effectively ended.”

Mass protests and violence in Zimbabwe started in the second largest city, Bulawayo
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Mass protests and violence in Zimbabwe started in the second largest city, Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s president promised to prosecute members of the army or the police who were found guilty of misconduct.

Yet it is members of the public in Bulawayo who are now being rounded up and arrested as the authorities re-assert their control in the city.

Lawyers told us 500 people have been detained in the past few days. The city’s prisons, “are packed like sardines,” said one.

Noxola Maphosa's brother was arrested for trying to organise a protest but they keep trying to delay the trial date
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Noxola Maphosa’s brother was arrested for trying to organise a protest but they keep trying to delay the trial date

We found one woman called Noxolo Maphosa, outside the city’s stately magistrate’s court, carrying a toothbrush and some basic suppliers for her brother, Josephat.

Josephat Ngulube ran as a candidate in the last election but he was arrested over the weekend for trying to organise a protest.

“Now I don’t know what is going to happen to him,” said Ms Maphosa.

“I am just waiting for them to tell us what is going to happen but I don’t have hope. I thought we would get a trial date today but they keep on postponing. I am losing hope.”

The police and the members of the military are back on the streets and they are making their presence felt.

I heard and saw evidence of systematic raids and beatings carried out in the city’s suburbs.

Residents in an area called Marbutweni told us that troops turned up after 8pm on Tuesday and went door to door, administering beatings to men over the age of 14.

Clive showed the bruises from being beaten by troops
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Clive showed his bruises from being beaten by troops
Clive said the troops asked him where he was coming from and nine men beat him with batons and more
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Clive said the troops asked him where he was coming from and nine men beat him with batons and more

A resident called Clive showed us a series of blue marks and bruises covering his back, then turned around to address us in a quivering voice.

“I met those guys. ‘Where you coming from?’ (they said).

“I said ‘I am going home. It is after dark’.

“(They said) lie down and then nine guys were hitting me. Baton sticks and everything. Come on, is this Zimbabwe?”

We were given more testimony from a man called John, whose face was badly swollen.

“I was asking, ‘what did I do wrong?’ But they were continuously beating me and I don’t know what to do now because I am scared,” he told us.

These are arbitrary and unjustified attacks in a country led by a man – Emerson Mnangagwa – who is trying to sell it as a modern democracy. The people of Bulawayo are unlikely to forgive.

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