Amid heated row over the reopening of temples as the Coronavirus outbreak in Maharashtra eases, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called for a cabinet meeting on Wednesday likely to discuss the matter as political pressure intensifies. As per sources, the meeting will be held at 3 pm.
Meanwhile, the Shirdi police released protesting saints and other devotees after briefly detaining them Tuesday evening as they held a demonstration at the Sai Baba temple calling for the reopening of places of worship. They are on a hunger strike since 9 am in the morning to seek the temples to be opened for devotees across Maharashtra. While the Ministry of Home Affairs permitted the reopening of religious places in India from June 8 onwards, the Maharashtra government decided against implementing this relaxation owing to the persisting threat of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Addressing the media, a protesting saint Acharya Tushar Bhosale lamented that the government had failed to give any assurance on the timeline for reopening the temples. Alleging that Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray was afraid of talking to the saints, he added that this is an “insensitive government”. After reaching the entrance of the temple, they were prevented from entering inside by many police personnel stationed at the spot.
Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil joined the protests in Shirdi and slammed the Maharashtra government for not reopening temples in the state.
Currently, there are 15,35,315 confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Maharashtra out of which 12,81,896 patients have recovered while 40,514 fatalities have been reported. Responding to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's request on reopening of places of worship, Thackeray maintained that the primary responsibility of his government is to safeguard the lives of the people. Stressing that it is unwise to lift the lockdown in one go, he highlighted the contours of the 'My Family, My Responsibility' initiative of the state government. The Maharashtra CM assured the Governor that a decision on reopening temples while taking all precautions will be taken at the earliest.