Updated: August 31, 2020 10:00:09 pm
Leading an agitation for reopening religious places in the state, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) chief Prakash Ambedkar, along with 15 other devotees, entered the Vithal-Rukmini temple at Pandhapur on Monday.
“The state government had given permission to me and 15 others to pray at the temple. The government has sought 10 days’ time to thrown open religious places,” Ambedkar said after coming out of the temple around 3 pm.
The VBA leader said the government has promised to come up with a standard operating procedure for religious places in 8-10 days. “After that, the government intends to thrown open religious places. If in 10 days, guidelines are not issued, I will come to Pandharpur again and stage a protest,” he said, while thanking Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for allowing him to enter the temple precincts.
The VBA leader said he reminded the chief minister of the Kalaram temple incident in Nashik. “I reminded him that Babasaheb Ambedkar had staged a satyagrah seeking entry for untouchables into the Kalaram temple. That time, the temple key was with the pujari. This time, I told him that the temple keys are with you. The chief minister responded to my appeal and I am thankful to him for his gesture,” he said.
Earlier, the local administration had blocked all roads leading to the temple. It had put up checkpoints at the entry and exit points to the temple town.
When Ambedkar arrived in the temple town on Monday morning, he said, “If we are not allowed to enter the temple, we will break the rules.” The VBA agitation was supported by the local warkari organisations.
Ambedkar said he had submitted a letter to the Solapur district administration, seeking permission to allow him and the others entry into the temple. “We are awaiting the administration’s response. I have appealed to the supporters not to cross barricades put up by the local administration,” he said. The administration later allowed Ambedkar and a few of the warkaris to enter the temple and offer prayers.
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