Women activists blame Maharashtra government for preventing temple entry

New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) Activists here on Saturday blamed the BJP-led Maharashtra government after various women activists were assaulted and prevented by villagers from praying at Shani Shingnapur Temple in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar.

The Bombay High Court on Friday declared that no law prevents women from entering places of worship and there should be no gender discrimination as far as entering one is concerned while allowing a plea filed by activists Vidya Bal and senior lawyer Nilima Vartak challenging the age-old tradition prohibiting entry to women to the sanctum sanctorum of the world-famous Shani Shingnapur Temple in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district.

However, on Saturday, hundreds of villagers, mostly women, formed human chains and prevented the activists from proceeding for ‘darshan’ at the Shani Shingnapur Temple in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra.

Women activists have welcomed the ruling of the Bombay High Court that allows women to enter temples, saying there should not be gender discrimination on religious rights.

They, however, blamed local government and police for not providing easy passage to women activists to enter the temple.

Social Activist and CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Maharashtra government violated the court order and blamed police for not providing easy passage to women activists to enter the temple.

“After the high court order and as the Maharashtra laws are very clear the police were asked to provide smooth passage and ensure security to the women activists who wanted to go to the temple,” Karat told IANS.

Karat demanded that the court intervene and punish the people responsible for the situation.

Congress leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said: “Two things have been clearly exposed that the Maharashtra government despite knowing that there is an Act that exists on giving equal rights to women has not implemented in true spirit.

“The high court verdict has been disregarded to continue tradition which has been going on for years.”

“We were hoping that the Maharashtra government which came on the promise of women empowerment and equal rights to women and a chief minister who keeps on talking of equal rights has failed in his duty,” Chaturvedi told IANS.

President of the All India Democratic Women’s Association and CPI leader Subhashini Ali also blamed Maharashtra government for not implementing the decision.

“This is very wrong. If you say that men and women have equal rights then why are only men allowed to enter places of worship,” Ali told IANS, adding that the decision should be applied in mosques and dargahs also.

Meanwhile, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) Secretary Kavita Krishnan welcomed the verdict and said that it is the fundamental right of women to enter places of worship.

“I support the decision of Bombay High Court,” she told IANS.

Director, Centre for Social Research, Ranjana Kumari termed it a historic judgment and demanded that the decision should be implemented in other temples where women are prohibited from entering.

There are several other temples in the country including Ayyappa Temple in Kerala, Patbausi Satra in Assam and Lord Kartikeya temple in Rajasthan which bar women from entering.

Kumari said: “There should be no discrimination on the basis of gender and women of 21st century will not tolerate such kinds of bias.”

“Such prohibitions flourished as men made the rules regarding the rituals practiced in the temple,” Kumari told IANS.

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