Maharashtra cops detain women who tried to storm into Shani Temple

Section 144, which prohibits assembly of more than ten people in an area, has been invoked in Ahmednagar.

Ahmednagar: Maharashtra police on Tuesday detained dozens of women who were on their way to the Shani Shingnapur Temple in Ahmednagar. The women were planning to storm into the temple, as a symbolic gesture to break the gender barrier at the shrine's sanctum sanctorum.

The moment the buses of activists under the banner of Bhumata Brigade reached Supa village, the volunteers led by its President Trupti Desai were disallowed from moving forward by scores of police personnel, who formed a ring to foil their march towards the famous temple.

In a tense showdown, the activists vehemently protested against the police action and raised slogans and lay down on the road, screaming "it is a black day for women on the Republic Day."

"Police has stopped around 350 women at Supa and necessary action will be taken against them," Additional Superintendent of Police, Pankaj Deshmukh said.

Desai, while speaking to reporters amid the stand-off, said that action against them was "condemnable" and that it was a "black day" for women as well as Indian democracy on the Republic Day." An angry Desai demanded to know why women were being discriminated against and asserted the activists will go ahead with their plans.

To prevent a law and order issue, the police and temple authorities had put up three levels of barricades, deployed women constables and village volunteers to guard the temple and Section 144 has been invoked in Ahmednagar, which prohibits people to assemble in large numbers in an area.

The women's organisation on Monday had said its members will climb down ladders from a helicopter to offer prayers at the 'chauthara' of Lord Shani temple in Ahmednagar district if they are not allowed access in its premises to protest against the tradition prohibiting women to enter the platform.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shani, the personification of planet Saturn, and women devotees are not permitted at the platform. Shani, the personification of planet Saturn, and women devotees are not permitted at the platform.

The open temple has no walls or roof. A self-emerged (svayambhu) five-foot-high black stone stands on a platform and is worshipped as Lord Shani.

Let's look at what other prominent women had to say on the incident.

1) If women can give birth to a man, then why should we discriminate and not allow them to worship a particular god. Everybody should have equal right. I want to ask why the women are denied entry into the temple. God hasn't made these rituals, it has been made by few people to debar women's entry from temples: Barkha Shukla, Former Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson.

2) It is very strange that the women are being stopped from worshipping gods, because gods are for everyone. There seems no reason as to why these women should be refrained from worshipping god when they want to: Shamina Shafiq, a women activist.

3) Today is Republic Day and the father of the Indian Constitution Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar had said that the Constitution gives equal rights to all of us, but those powers get curtailed by society in the name of rituals and traditions. The society and the people need to understand that men and women are on the same platform in this country: Former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Shazia Ilmi.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
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