Over 400 women activists attempted to take a stand to break the centuries-old tradition of banning female entry to the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district, but it was foiled by the police when they were stopped at the village.
The women activists, who were heading towards the temple, defying prohibitory orders over the worship, faced detention by the police at Supa village for some hours, and got released by the evening. They were sent back to Pune.
In support of women’s right to pray, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis initiated the dialogue between activists and temple authorities, to find a way out over such a discriminatory ban into the inner sanctum of the shrine. He tweeted, “according to Indian culture, women have the right to pray, and discrimination in praying is not right, so the temple authorities must look after the matter to resolve it.”
The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan group, said that it supports the demands by Hindu women to be allowed to enter the sanctum at Shani temple of Ahmednagar. In a statement, they said that they salute the women activists for their democratic protest and assertion of their right to worship in the face of all odds placed by the patriarchal male temple administration and condemn the discriminative arrangement at the temple and urge the temple trustees to correct their stand in line with the principles of gender justice enshrined in the constitution.
Through online reports, the co-founders of Muslim women protest group, Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Safia Niaz said that they were shocked at the imposition of Section 144 by district administration, where women are barred from proceeding peacefully to the temple.
The group has urged the Maharashtra government to immediately take steps in correction of this continued denial of justice to women.