A Goa-based NGO has filed a complaint with police over a temple allegedly denying entry to a 17-year-old physically disabled girl with wheelchair. The temple authorities, however, said they have no facility to take the wheelchair in the temple and that it wasn’t fair to say they denied entry to the girl.
Sanika Keskar, from Mumbai, during a trip to Goa last month paid a visit to Mangueshi temple, located around 20 kms from here close to Ponda taluka in South Goa, where she was allegedly denied entry. The girl’s mother alleged that a trustee of the temple refused to let the wheelchair be taken in the temple as “vehicles were not allowed inside”.
The Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) yesterday filed the complaint with the office of South Goa’s superintendent of police, after the girl’s mother launched an online petition against discrimination. The organisation, in its complaint, alleged that the temple’s action was discrimination and abuse of a physically challenged person, and claimed that it is a criminal offence under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
“We also wish to bring to notice that denial of right to worship is a serious offence as it is a fundamental right under the Constitution,” DRAG president Avelino D’Sa said. The NGO also wrote to the collectors of North Goa and South Goa, and the state commissioner for persons with disabilities, requesting them to direct all heads of religious places of worship under their jurisdiction to ensure that elderly persons and those with disabilities are not denied entry, citing aids and appliances used for their mobility.
The temple management, however, has refuted the charge that they denied entry to anyone in the temple. “We have no facility to take wheelchair in the temple. It will not be fair to say that we denied the entry,” the temple’s trustee, Anil Kenkre, said.
Meanwhile, South Goa’s Superintendent of Police Arvind Gawas said he is yet to receive the complaint from DRAG or any other person in this connection. “We will inquire into it only when we receive any complaint. I can’t comment on it before that,” he said.