Shani Shingnapur temple row escalates, police detains activist Trupti Desai
Desai is the chief of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, the women's outfit spearheading the campaign against a centuries-old ban on female devotees entering the sacred platform at Shani Shingnapur temple.
Ahmednagar: In the latest development in a row over entry of women in Shani Shingnapur, police on Monday detained Bhumata Ranragini Brigade president Trupti Desai here in Maharashtra while she was on her way to the temple.
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 22, 2016
According to media reports, Desai had received an anonymous threat letter on 12 February warning her of dire consequences like those faced by Narendra Dabholkar. Dabholkar had been found murdered on 20 August 2013.
The development comes days after it was decided in a meeting that the issue of whether or not to permit women to step onto the open sanctum sanctorum of the world-famous Shani Shingnapur Temple will now be decided by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The meeting, held at the behest of the chief minister, was attended by district Police Superintendent Saurabh Tripathi, Shri Shanaishwar Devasthan Shani Shingnapur chairperson Anita Shetye, Save Shanishwar Devasthan Action Committee chief Shambajiraje Patil and Bhumata Ranragini Brigade chief Trupti Desai.
Though both sides maintained that the meeting was cordial and were satisfied by the talks, they refused to budge from their respective stand on the issue of permitting women onto the temple's sanctum sanctorum.
The meeting was directed by Fadnavis after around 1,500 activists of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade threatened to storm the temple January 26 (Republic Day), but were prevented from going to the village, nearly 100 kms away.
Notably, the unique open temple has no walls or roof. A self-emerged (svayambhu) five-foot-high black stone stands on a platform and is worshipped as Lord Shanidev.
The temple platform stands in the centre of the small village, also known as Sonai and attracts millions of tourists and devotees from across the country and abroad.
However, barring the temple priests, none is permitted to climb the nine steps up to the actual stone idol that represents the deity. Everybody must only offer prayers from below the platform, said a temple trustee Prafull N Surpuriya.
Shani Shingnapur is globally known as the only village where houses do not have doors and locks, and the village remains theft-free.
(With Agency inputs)