Bhumata Ranragini Brigade chief Trupti Desai, who has been spearheading the campaign for gender equality in temples, today welcomed the Bombay High Court’s ruling that women can no longer be barred from entering temples in Maharashtra as it is their fundamental right.
A jubilant Desai said they will take their campaign to other shrines across the country where such gender discrimination was practised routinely.
“After this victory, we will take this fight to other temples in the country, where such restrictions are imposed on entry of women. We are now preparing to go to Shani Shingnapur temple (in Ahmednagar) tomorrow. We are sure that after the HC ruling, police will not restrict women and we will be allowed inside the sanctum,” she said.
The members of the city-based outfit were seen distributing sweets among themselves after the HC verdict.
“We will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urge him to enact a law to put an end to such restrictions on worshiping,” said Desai who was detained along with her members twice while marching towards Shingnapur and Trimbakeshwar temples.
Desai said their fight was not restricted to Shani Shinganapur and Trimbakeshwar temples but with regard to every place of worship where women’s entry was banned.
On the HC ruling being an outcome of a petition filed by social activist Vidya Bal, she said, “At the start of our agitation, we had clarified we will not go to the court. However, we had exhorted various like-minded people and organisations to take the legal recourse to augment the cause.”
Desai claimed Bal had met her and appreciated their efforts to end the gender discrimination.
“She told me if we are not ready to go the legal way, her (Bal’s) organisation will go to the court and now both have won the fight,” she said.
In directions which are seen as a break from centuries-old traditions and a boost for women’s campaign against gender bias, the Bombay High Court today held it was the fundamental right of a woman and the government’s fundamental duty to protect their (women) rights.
It asked the Maharashtra government to take pro-active steps to ensure this right was not allowed to be encroached upon by any authority.
A division bench of Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice M S Sonak gave the directions while hearing a public interest litigation by senior advocate Nilima Vartak and social activist Vidya Bal, challenging prohibition of entry of women in temples like Shani Shingnapur in Maharashtra.