Women protestors threaten to climb down from chopper if denied entry at Shani temple

A women’s organisation on Monday said its members will climb down ladders from a helicopter to offer prayers at the ‘chauthara’ of Lord Shani temple in Ahmednagar district if they are not allowed access in its premises to protest against the tradition prohibiting women to enter the platform.

“We have already booked a helicopter and if we are not permitted to enter from the open ground, we shall drop ladders from the chopper and climb down,” said Trupti Desai, president of ‘Bhumata Ranragini Brigade’.

The Charity Commissioner’s office has already imposed restrictions on the proposed programme fearing damage to property.

“Over 1000 women from all over the state will proceed to the temple tomorrow morning,” Desai said.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shani, the personification of planet Saturn, and women devotees are not permitted at the platform. The open temple has no walls or roof. A self-emerged (svayambhu) five-foot-high black stone stands on a platform and is worshipped as Lord Shani.

Meanwhile, Ahmednagar District Collector Anil Kawade told PTI that they have received the application from the women’s group requesting usage of helicopter.

“We have received the application and it has been sent to the office of the Superintendent of Police as they are the one who will take the decision whether to give the permission for helicopter use,” he said.

When contacted, Ahmednagar SP Saurabh Tripathi said the application has been sent to the local police station as the decision on granting permission will be taken on the basis of ground reality and the situation.

“Prohibitory orders are already issued on assembly of people in the entire district and to make sure that there will not be any law and order situation in the village. We have deployed extra police bandobast and adequate number of female police personnel are deployed in and around the village,” he said.

An effort by the women’s organisation to break the security cordon and enter the prohibited area of the temple was foiled by security personnel of the Shani Shingnapur Trust on December 20 last year. The Joint Charity Commissioner, Pune, had served a notice to the organisation against entering the sanctum sanctorum.