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Fadnavis govt under fire over Shani temple entry row

Opposition members in Maharashtra Legislative Council on Monday slammed the BJP-led government for not facilitating the entry of women into the sanctum sanctorum of Shani Shingnapur temple despite the Bombay High Court’s ruling on ending gender discrimination at places of worship.

The Opposition attack came two days after a group of women activists led by Trupti Desai were stopped by villagers and later detained by police when they attempted to enter the core area of the temple, located in Ahmednagar district, where female devotees are not allowed.

Vociferous members stalled the proceedings and sought an explanation from the BJP-Shiv Sena government over the issue.

Soon after the Question Hour was over, Sanjay Dutt (Congress) sought to move an adjournment motion but his plea was rejected by Council Chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar.

Speaking on the admissibility of the motion, Dutt contended that the government had given an undertaking to the HC that it would allow women access to the sanctum sanctorum of the popular shrine.

“The government ought to have taken precautions after the Bombay High Court ruled that it is the fundamental right of women to enter places of worship. Not doing so has exposed its (government’s) double standards,” he said.

Leader of Opposition and NCP member Dhananjay Munde said following the April 1 order, the government should have ensured women are allowed entry into the Shani temple.

“The government does not want women to gain entry into temples (where they are barred). Not honouring the HC’s verdict amounts to contempt of court,” he said.

Vidya Chavan (NCP) alleged the Devendra Fadnavis-led dispensation was functioning on the directions of some right wing oufits.

Making an intervention, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat drew the Chair’s attention to its ruling that it has disallowed the adjournment motion. “The Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) has already made it clear the government will not oppose entry of women into the (Shani) temple.” 
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