The Kolhapur police on Saturday booked seven persons including two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) workers for allegedly manhandling activist Trupti Desai. Desai was allegedly beaten up on Wednesday by priests and locals as she tried to enter the inner sanctum of Mahalaxmi temple.
The locals and temple priests while opposing Desai’s entry inside the sanctum sanctorum threw ink on her and heckled her, said the police. The temple trust had said they will allow her in the “garbh griha” if she wears sari. The crusader however defied the advice, leading to a scuffle.
Shortly after the incident, an injured Desai was shifted to a hospital and remained in ICU for over two days before being discharged on Friday.
The police have filed cases against five priests and two NCP activists under various sections of IPC.
The five priests booked are Kedar Muneshwar, Shreesh Muneshwar, Mayur Muneshwar, Chaitanya Ashtekar and Nikhil Shanbag, all working at the temple.
Besides, two NCP activists, Kisan Kalyankar and Jaykumar Shinde have also been named in the FIR.
The accused are also charged with attempts to prevent the police from doing their duty and roughing up the police personnel at the temple premises, a report of which has been sent to the local court.
The temple priests denied they assaulted Desai and claimed that they were trying to reason with her on the temple traditions and dress code which she and supporters had allegedly violated. The Bhumata Ranragini Brigade (BRB) led by Trupti Desai said the temple priests’ actions were violative of the Bombay high court order of April 1, which ruled that under the Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956, women could not be barred from any place of worship.
Following the order, on April 8, the Shani Shingnapur Temple Trust, Ahmednagar, in a historical move, threw open the temple for women devotees where they were banned since over four centuries.
The BRB is continuing its campaign for women’s entry to the Shree Mahalaxmi Temple in Kolhapur and the Trimbakeshwar Temple in Nashik.