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Even as large parts of Kerala remained on tenterhooks following the prolonged stand-off between pro and anti-women’s entry group at the Sabarimala temple, the police were put on red alert following reports that Trupti Desai, who was at the forefront of the Right to Pray movement in Maharashtra had already reached the state in an effort to enter the temple.

Shortly after the Supreme Court verdict was out on September 28, Desai had  welcomed it and had told the media that she will be heading to Sabarimala soon to pay respects to Ayyappa. Though she said she would soon announce the dates, in view of the surcharged atmosphere, authorities fear she may try to enter incognito. When Trupti Desai first fought for entry into the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, she proclaimed that she will enter Sabarimala temple next. After her announcement, Rahul Easwar had issued an open challenge, claiming that 500 women will form a human chain to stop her. In recent days, she said she had been receiving threats from Hindu groups. “I have received many threats on my Facebook profile but I don’t pay heed to such threats. We will go and nobody can stop us.” Her temple-entry ‘crusades’ over the past few years has led to temple trustees opening the inner sanctum of the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district to women in April 2016 besides  mounting a campaign to seek entry for women in the core area of the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.

Desai had written several times to the Sabarimala trustees, demanding entry to women of all ages. “It is patently unjust to debar women for a whole month, owing to their menstruating cycle. We strongly challenge these outmoded notions of purity and deem it a gross injustice to devotees of Lord Ayappa,”  she wrote in a letter in 2016 demanding an end to gender discrimination.

—India Legal Bureau

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