Women activists on way to Shani temple let off after detention

Women activists on way to Shani temple let off after detention
Around 400 women activists, who tried to head for Shani Shinganapur temple in Ahmednagar district defying prohibitory orders to worship the deity, were released by police this evening after detaining them for a few hours.

Ahmednagar police stopped the activists of 'Ranaragini Bhoomata Brigade' protesting against the alleged gender bias by the temple authorities, led by Trupti Desai, at Supa, about 70 km from the temple premises, foiling their bid to offer worship at the sacred platform, traditionally barred for women.

The detained women were lodged in a marriage hall at Supa, where they were held by women police personnel.

"We detained Trupti Desai and other activists. After taking action under the relevant sections of the Bombay Police Act, they were released on bail in the evening," said Additional Superintendent of Police, Ahmednagar district, Pankaj Deshmukh.

"We took utmost precaution to avoid any confrontation between villagers of Shani Shinganapur and the women activists and the latter has been asked to go back to Pune," he added.

The activists were later sent back to Pune in busloads, police said.

Desai condemned the police action prohibiting their march to the temple town saying it was a "black day for women and an insult to the Constitution".

"We are going to meet the Chief Minister and request him that government should take over the temple trust and allow both men and women inside the core area of the temple, ending the gender bias and discrimination," she said after their release.

An activist of the Brigade, Priyanka Jagtap, alleged that the protesters were handled "roughly" by police despite peaceful nature of their demonstration.

Trupti Desai's husband, Prashant Desai, said, "Although we were heading to the temple peacefully, police stopped our buses and restricted us from taking blessings from the Lord Shani."

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shani, the personification of planet Saturn, and women devotees are not permitted at the platform as per the tradition followed by the shrine.  


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