Activist Trupti Desai detained ahead of Modi’s visit to Shirdi

Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai. File

Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai. File

The city police early Friday detained activist and Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai, hours ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the temple town of Shirdi in Ahmednagar district.

The activist had earlier announced her intention to seek an audience with the Prime Minister at Shirdi, demanding an explanation from Mr. Modi over his ‘silence’ on the violent protests against women seeking to offer worship at the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala and the assault on women journalists at Niilackal who were covering the ‘temple entry’ event.

She had written a letter to the Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police on Thursday evening, seeking permission to meet the Prime Minister at Shirdi but had received no reply.

Ms. Desai had further warned that she, along with fellow activists, would attempt to block the PM’s convoy if he did not agree to discuss her demands.

Ms. Desai was taken from her home at 5 a.m. and kept in detention at the Sahakar Nagar police station on grounds of “preventive custody”, said authorities.

“No reason has been given me for this act of forcible detention. I was only told that the order had come from the Pune Police Commissioner. It is ironic that we activists who are striving for the cause temple entry for women are treated in this manner. Why couldn’t the police in Kerala take preventive measures and detain those hate mongers and trouble makers ahead of the temple entry at Sabarimala instead?” said Ms. Desai, speaking to The Hindu from Sahakar Nagar police station.

Death threats

Earlier this month, the activist had said she would be seeking police protection after having allegedly received a string of death threats following her intention to offer worship at the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala in the wake of the recent Supreme Court verdict lifting the ban of women’s entry there.

“Why is it so difficult for women to offer worship at the Lord Ayappa Temple at Sabarimala despite the Supreme Court’s verdict permitting women to offer worship inside the sanctum sanctorum? Why were women journalists beaten and assaulted? Mr. Modi has remained conspicuously silent on the issue,” Ms. Desai said.

She alleged that the assault against women devotees and journalists was mobilised by activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Ms. Desai, who lauded the apex court’s decision on allowing women to offer worship at the Lord Ayappa temple, had said she had received more than 200 posts of an extremely offensive nature on her Facebook page threatening her with dire consequences if she attempted to visit Sabarimala.

The activist has said she would probably be visiting the Sabarimala temple after the Diwali festival.

Ms. Desai’s highly publicised temple-entry ‘crusades’ over the past few years to demolish gender barriers at shrines across Maharashtra led to temple trustees opening the inner sanctum of the historic Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district to women in April 2016.

She had also mounted a combative campaign to seek entry for women in the core area of the Haji Ali Dargah written and had written more than once to the trustees of the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, demanding entry to women of all ages into the famous hill shrine.

In December last year, she had announced her decision to visit the Sabarimala temple, but called it off owing to a potential law and order situation that might arise owing to her presence.

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Printable version | May 15, 2022 11:47:46 am |