Updated: November 15, 2018 4:10:29 am
Enthused by the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay its September 28 verdict lifting age restrictions on the entry of women to Sabarimala temple in Kerala, Maharashtra-based ‘right to pray’ campaigner Trupti Desai said she along with six other women will reach the state on November 17 to “exercise their right to pray guaranteed by the constitution.”
“Our seven-member team will be taking a flight to Sabarimala on November 16. We will land there on November 17….we will not leave Kerala till we are allowed to offer worship,” said Desai, who had two years ago successfully led entry of women in 400-year-old Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra where entry of menstruating women was barred for centuries.
Stating that there was a threat to their lives, Desai said she has sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kerala Chief Minister and State DGP seeking protection when they land in Kerala and till their safe return to Maharashtra. “After the Supreme Court ruling, I have too received more than 300 numbers of threats on my Facebook account. The messages threaten to murder me, cut me into pieces if I land in Kerala. I have been addressed in dirty, unprintable language,” she said.
Some of the threats, said Desai, include references like “as soon as we land at the airport, our hands and legs shall be cut off from bodies and remaining portion of our damaged bodies will be despatched to Maharashtra which signifies a big danger to our lives in Kerala. We will land at the airport on November 16. It is necessary that we get security protection till the time we leave Kerala.” Read in Malayalam
Desai has not only sought protection but has also urged Kerala government to bear the expenses of their team during their stay in Kerala. “We request the Kerala government to bear all the expenses with protection incurred by us related to arrangements made since we reach Kerala and subsequently to Maharashtra,” Desai said in a letter to Kerala Chief Minister.
Emphasising that their fight for the entry of women into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is for the right to gender equality, Desai said: “This was not a fight against any religion or against devotees. We also have no intention to hurt sentiments of the devotees. On the contrary, we too are the devotees of God. Despite the Supreme Court ruling, we are still unable to worship our God by entering into the temple and that too under police protection which has severely hurt our sentiments.”
Desai said their entry into the temple will be in a democratic way and also based on truth and non-violence as preached by Mahatma Gandhi. “Whoever opposes our entry into the temple and to whatever extent, we will enter the temple with folded hands before the protestors which will be based fully on Gandhian principles. If any violence or untoward incident occurs, it will be the responsibility of the Kerala government,” she said.
On Tuesday, the apex court designated January 22, 2019 as the date when it would hear the review petitions against the order of the constitution bench. READ more
The activist’s decision to visit the shrine is likely to fuel fierce protests by right-wing outfits around the shrine, similar to the kind witnessed in October and earlier this month. Since the Supreme Court ruling in September, the temple has opened for a period of eight days, but no woman between the ages of 10 and 50 have been able to breach the protesters and offer prayers at the temple. Each time, the women, escorted by heavy police security, have been forced to descend the hill and go back home.
Activists like Rahul Eashwar, who has been at the forefront of the protests, have indicated that the ‘devotees’ would naturally react to any attempt to ‘violate temple traditions and rituals.’ ”Trupti Desai will be able to enter the temple, only by stomping on our chests,” he said.
On Thursday, the ruling Left government will hold discussions with Opposition parties including the Congress and the BJP as well as other stakeholders in the row such as the Nair Service Society, the Pandalam Palace Coordination Committee and the priests’ family. Both the Congress and the BJP have asked the government to abandon it’s ‘stubborn’ nature and to be respectful of devotee sentiments. Both parties have indicated that the implementation of the SC ruling must be suspended temporarily until the court takes a final decision in January next year.
The annual pilgrimage season begins at Sabarimala on Friday evening when the doors of the sanctum sanctorum will open for the ‘mandalam-makaravilakku’ festivals. Crores of devotees, particularly from the southern states, descend on Sabarimala during this period after an austere 41-day vow of abstinence.
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