Activist Trupti Desai defiant as cops foil fresh bid to reach Trimbakeshwar temple

Nashik: A fresh bid by women activists to proceed towards Trimbakeshwar temple near here was foiled by police who detained them today even as a defiant Trupti Desai, spearheading the campaign for breaking gender bias at places of worship, threatened to intensify the stir.

Desai, chief of the Bhumata Brigade, has been leading the protests seeking entry of women to the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Lord Shiva shrine against the ban on female devotees.

She and around 150 activists had yesterday left Pune for Trimbakeshwar but were stopped and detained by the police at Nandurshingote village, 80 kms away from the temple town. At 2 am today, they were allowed to return to Pune but they reassembled at the spot three hours later and made a fresh attempt to proceed towards Trimbakeshwar.

However, the police personnel present there prevented them, an official attached to Wavi police station said. Desai claimed that she was approached by some officials from Nashik district who promised her to arrange a meeting of all stake-holders on the issue including the Trimbakeshwar Temple Trust, in next eight days.

"We have accepted the request of local administration and have given them an ultimatum of 15 days to resolve the matter. We warned them that if no solution is made, we will intensify our agitation," she told reporters here. Narrating the sequence of events, Desai said she and other activists were let off by the police around 9 PM yesterday after detaining them at Nandurshingote village.

"We had categorically told them that the brigade is determined to go to the temple. While returning towards Pune, we did not see any police van around us and took a decision to go back towards Trimbakeshwar again (today morning).

"On the way, we were once again detained by police at the same spot near the village and now after being detained for several hours (throughout the day), we have been released. Police themselves are escorting us till our doorsteps in Pune," she said. Desai had taken out a march January 26 to the famous Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district seeking access for women to its sacred platform.

However, the police had foiled their bid and detained them at a village 70 km away from the shrine. While the entry of women is banned in Trimbakeshwar temple's garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), men devotees are allowed to enter for an hour (between 6 am to 7 am) on condition of wearing sovala (a silk dhoti) for offering pooja to Lord Shiva.

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