OVER 2,000 writers and activists from different walks of life in Maharashtra on Friday wrote a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, congratulating him on his firm stand to not allow temples to reopen. They also congratulated him for not succumbing to “pressure” in this regard from Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Among the leading signatories are Jnanpith awardee writer Bhalchandra Nemade, writer-critic Shanta Gokhale, playwright Jayant Pawar, writer Ranganath Pathare, poet Neerja, former director of Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Naresh Dadhich, scientist Hemchandra Pradhan, social activists Subhash Ware and Ashutosh Shirke, artist Sujit Patwardhan, educationist Vidya Patwardhan, activist Mukta Dabholkar, Sarvoday activist Vijay Diwan, activist Pratibha Patil and leading agriculture expert writer Milind Murugkar.
“All states are fighting the coronavirus pandemic by trying to strike a balance between preventing the spread of the disease and opening up regular activities. But you were burdened with the additional task of countering pressure exerted by the governor to reopen temples and his open opposition to ‘secularism’,” the letter stated.
It further said, “You had two options — think of people’s health or think of their faith. Secularism means standing firmly in favour of people’s physical well being if their faith obstructs it. Article 25 of the Constitution gives the government the authority to curb religious freedom if it obstructs people’s well being of health,” adding, “we find political use of people’s faith extremely objectionable because, if it succeeds, it can prove dangerous for the future of the devouts.”
It also said, “The secular human being believes that the government’s role should be determined by the physical well-being of people. We heartily congratulate you for taking a firm stand in favour of secularism and for having conveyed it clearly to the governor, as we believe it’s difficult to take such a position when it comes to religious faiths.”
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