Pune: Upset over police action preventing women activists from entering the sacred platform of the Shani temple, Bhumata Ranragini Brigade leader Trupti Desai on Saturday said that she would file an FIR against Maharashtra chief minister if he fails to honour the Bombay High Court order facilitating entry of females at places of worship.
"If chief minister Devendra Fadnavis does not order police to allow us to worship at the Shani platform inside the temple in keeping with the HC order, I will file an FIR against him for violating it (the ruling)," she said.
The activist was talking to reporters outside the Shani Shinganapur temple in Ahmednagar, some 120 km from Pune, where she and other women activists were stopped by police to avoid a clash with villagers who had gathered there to protect the tradition banning women's entry.
Lashing out at Fadnavis, Desai said the CM holds the Home portfolio and has jurisdiction over the state police. "If he cannot order the police to honour the high court's order, he should give up the Home portfolio," Desai said, adding she would try to contact Prime Minister Narendra Modi and seek his intervention.
The high court had directed the state on Friday to take proactive steps to ensure compliance of the law that prevents discrimination against women regarding entry into places of worship, saying, "It is the fundamental right of a woman", and the government should protect it.
A five-foot-high black stone stands on a sacred platform and is worshipped as Lord Shani at the temple.
Meanwhile, members of an action committee formed in the district to maintain the 400-year-old tradition at the temple is considering challenging the high court order in the Supreme Court. "We will approach the apex court against the high court ruling as it is a matter of protecting the faith of devotees," said Sambhaji Dahatonde, a member of the action committee.
After the agitation began, the temple management shunned the practice of special puja for men in the last two months. Now both men and women are offering prayers from an equal distance from the idol. As of now, only priests are allowed on the sacred sanctum.
The debate over the issue of women's entry into the sanctum sanctorum of temples in Maharashtra escalated after a woman last year tried to enter and offer prayers at the Shani Shingnapur temple, a "breach" of the age-old practice of prohibiting entry of women.
This had prompted the temple committee to suspend seven security men and the villagers to perform "purification rituals".
Subsequently, the Bhumata Brigade led by Desai had on launched a high-voltage campaign January 26 to breach the ban at the temple and vowed to carry on with its movement for gender justice.
Besides, around 150 women under the outfit's banner had headed to the famous Trimbakeshwar temple in Nashik last month, seeking to break the ban on female devotees at the inner sanctum of the Lord Shiva shrine. Their attempts were, however, foiled by the police.