Moving swiftly to avoid a possible confrontation, Maharashtra Police on Monday evening detained over 100 women activists planning to storm the sanctum sanctorum of the renowned Trimbakeshwar Temple in Nashik district, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in the country.
Around 200 women activists of the Bhumata Ranragini Brigade (BRB) led by its president Trupti Desai had left Pune and were joined by another 100 women en route to Nashik, but all were stopped around 100 km away at Shingote village near Sinnar town in Nashik district.
"We are being treated badly. Instead of stopping us, I request the chief minister to provide us police protection, " an agitated Desai told media persons as she was bundled into a waiting police van by women police officers.
Earlier this morning, Desai said she plans to appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to look into the larger issue of allowing women inside temples from which they are being debarred for centuries.
She pointed out that in her meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently, the latter had responded positively to their demands, but detaining the activists was "an insult to women on the eve of International Women's Day".
This is the second time in barely six weeks that the BRB launched a high - profile agitation after its first unsuccessful attempt to storm the Shani Shingnapur Temple in adjoining Ahmednagar district on January 26.
"Not just Shani Shingnapur Temple or Trimbakeshwar Temple, there is discrimination against women in many other temples in the country and we shall tackle all of them gradually, " she added.
In a letter to the Trimbakeshwar Temple Trust chairman U. S. Phalke, Desai said there is no ban on entry of women in any Lord Shiva temples across India.
"The tradition of banning entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of this (Trimbakeshwar Temple) has no scientific or religious backing, " she argued.