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No stay on 2018 order, Trupti Desai to visit Sabarimala

Trupti Desai

Trupti Desai   | Photo Credit: Vijay Bate

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‘We urge Kerala government to ensure that police escort women right inside the temple’

Gender rights activist and Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to refer review petitions to a larger bench against its verdict last year removing the ban on women aged between 10 and 50 years to offer worship at Sabarimala in Kerala.

Even as the Kerala government sought more legal clarity on the SC’s decision as to whether the apex court had maintained status quo on its 2018 verdict, Ms. Desai, known in Maharashtra for her ‘temple-entry’ agitations, interpreted that the Supreme Court’s verdict of last year to allow women of all age groups to worship at Sabarimala remained operational.

She said she was planning to visit Sabarimala in the next few days and added that mere police protection by the Kerala government was insufficient to ensure that women could worship at the Ayyapa shrine in peace.

“The judges today have referred the Sabarimala case to a larger Supreme Court Bench of seven judges by saying that Sabarimala was only part of a larger issue which included the question of entry of Muslim women in mosques and Parsi women in their fire temples…While we were expecting a final decision on Sabarimala today, we are nevertheless happy that the judges have not stayed the order,” Ms. Desai told The Hindu.

“We urge the Kerala government to ensure that police escort women right inside the temple, near the sanctum sanctorum… While my date of visit has yet to be finalised, I, along with other Bhumata Brigade members, will be visiting the shrine sometime on or immediately after November 17,” she said.

On 28 September 2018, the apex court had ended an age-old practice of keeping out women in their menstruating age from the temple by calling the practice as “discriminatory”. In November last year, Ms. Desai had made an ineffectual attempt at entering the temple despite the SC lifting the ban.

Her announcement of visiting the Sabarimala temple was followed by a barrage of death threats.

At the time, Ms. Desai had written to Kerala Chief Minister and the Kerala Director General of Police (DGP) demanding police protection for herself and six other women activists from her outfit, while accusing functionaries of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and devotees of Lord Ayyappa of bombarding her with graphic threats if she tried to enter the temple complex.

Ms. Desai’s highly publicised temple-entry ‘crusades’ over the past few years to demolish gender barriers at shrines across Maharashtra led to intransigent 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 campaign for entry of women in the core area of the Haji Ali dargah.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 6:04:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/no-stay-on-2018-order-trupti-desia-to-visit-sabarimala/article29976652.ece

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