- Women stopped from entering inner sanctum at Shani Shingnapur temple
- Bombay High Court had slammed ban on the entry of women in the temple
- Maharashtra government had said it would comply with the order
Members of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade led by Ms Desai alleged that around 100 villagers including many women pushed and blocked their way, as the 25 or so women activists tried to enter the inner sanctum, which age-old tradition forbids. The activists were taken away by the police, amid protests by them. The police said it was done to avoid a clash between the two sides.
After the court ruled on Friday that offering prayers at a temple "is the fundamental right of a woman" and that it was "government's fundamental duty to protect these rights", the Maharashtra government had said it will enforce a law that provides six months in prison for preventing anyone from entering a temple.
"What are the police doing? They were directed to provide protection to us by the court," Ms Desai said, questioning the steps taken by the state government to ensure the safety of activists.
Ms Desai, who has pledged to offer prayers at the temple, said, "We are not going to turn around. We have the court order and if need be we will file an FIR (first information report) against the home minister and chief minister."
Nearly 400 women volunteers and activists led by Ms Desai were stopped by police and hundreds of locals, including women, from entering the Shani Shingnapur temple in January.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had earlier said that "discrimination in worshipping is not our culture" in support for women entering temples. "Indian culture and the Hindu religion have always given women the right to worship," he had said in a tweet.
Last year, after a woman devotee managed to offer prayers to the idol at the Shani Shingnapur temple, an elaborate cleansing ritual was immediately carried out by a priest.
A member of an action committee formed to maintain the 400-year-old tradition, Sambhaji Dahatonde has said they will soon approach the Supreme Court against the High Court ruling as it is a matter of "protecting the faith of devotees".
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