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Rohit Pawar seeks reopening of temples in Maharashtra

By Yogesh Joshi, Pune
PUBLISHED ON AUG 16, 2020 08:22 PM IST

Rohit Pawar, a legislator from Jamkhed in Ahmednagar and grandnephew of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar, has demanded the state government to reopen temples across Maharashtra. Rohit on Sunday said that many livelihoods are dependent on these temples, which have been closed since March 22 after the lockdown was announced to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“I think that temples and religious places should be opened. There are many people whose livelihoods are dependent on these religious places. I will, therefore, follow-up on this issue,” tweeted Rohit in a response to another tweet by citizen who cited how traders in Tuljapur had been facing difficulties due to closure of the temple there.

Despite growing demand, the state government has taken a call not to reopen religious places in light of the prevailing Covid-19 situation in Maharashtra, which accounts for almost 24 per cent of the overall positive cases with 41 per cent fatalities in India. Maharashtra’s coronavirus case tally increased to 5,84,754 on Saturday and the death toll due to the pandemic rose to 19,749, the state health department said.

NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said that Rohit Pawar, being a public representative, has responded to a demand made by the common citizens. “As public representative, one has to listen and respond to what people feel and demand. The government on the other hand has to look into every aspect, including the safety of people during a situation like this,” said Malik.

When asked about NCP’s stand on the issue, Malik said, if there is demand from people, the party will accordingly take a stand. “After all, we are here to serve the people.”

Earlier this week, the government informed Bombay High Court that temples cannot be opened. The Bombay High Court division bench, comprising justices SJ Kathawalla and Madhav Jamdar was hearing on petitions by Ankit Jain and a Jain temple trust.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also previously demanded reopening of temples in the state, a move Shiv Sena termed as “dual stand” saying that the Centre had decided to cancel Amarnath Yatra while the party’s state unit had been seeking reopening of religious places.

A section of the Shiv Sena also has asked for opening up of religious places. Anand Dave, spokesperson of the party and member of Akhil Bharatiya Brahmin Mahasangh met home minister Anil Deshmukh last week and demanded reopening of temples.

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