A day after the high-voltage bid to defy the ban on women devotees entering the sacred platform at Shani Shingnapur temple, Bhoomata Brigade leader Trupti Desai today sought Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s support for ending gender bias at all religious places across Maharashtra.
Meeting the chief minister on the sidelines of a function here, Desai handed over a memorandum of demands to him that sought free entry of women at all sacred places in the state.
Fadnavis, who has said he is for a dialogue on the issue, did not offer any comments on the list of demands at the function venue.
Desai later told reporters that Fadnavis had responded favourably and accepted the memorandum with a positive assurance. She suggested that the chief minister should visit the temple along with his wife in support of the women’s cause.
Led by Desai, over 400 women, most of them hailing from the city here, had launched a protest against the centuries-old practice of not allowing women at the inner platform (chauthara) of the temple where only men are permitted to make offerings to the deity (Shani).
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the gram sabha at the village where the famous shrine is located passed a resolution condemning Desai and her volunteers for attempting to storm the ‘chauthara’. That bid was foiled by police who stopped the campaigners at Supa village, about 70km away.
The marchers were detained there for a few hours before being released and sent back to Pune on buses.
The women, who were detained at a marriage hall in Supa, protested against the police action and raised slogans. They had even laid down on the road, crying “it is a black day for women on Republic Day”.
An angry Desai had sought to know why women were being discriminated against and asserted that the activists would go ahead with their plan.
As a showdown ensued, Fadnavis called for a dialogue between temple authorities and activists to resolve the issue even as he maintained that women have an equal right to worship as men.
“Indian culture and Hindu religion gives women the right to pray. A change in yesterday’s traditions is our culture. Discrimination in praying is not in our culture. The temple authorities should resolve the issue through dialogue,” Fadnavis had tweeted.