Manguesh temple accessibility row: disability rights group seeks apology from temple management

first_imgThe Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) on Saturday refuted the Manguesh Temple administration’s claim on availability of wheelchair facility on its premises. The body also objected to the temple not allowing personal wheel-chairs on the pretext that “the purity and sanctity of the temple” would be defiled. On October 17, a 17-year-old Navi-Mumbai based differently-abled girl, Sanika Keskar, was disallowed to enter the temple in her wheel-chair. Her mother Shubhada started an online petition against the temple management, to which the management claimed the family was misinterpreting the issue. After meeting Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday, the temple’s president C. V. Dhume said the Keskar family had not filed any oral or written complaint with the management yet. He also claimed that the temple management has made a wheel-chair of its own available since 2004 for physically challenged devotees to use.According to Mr. Dhume it was the Keskars who refused to use wheel-chair available in the temple. “The temple managing committee does not allow visitors to use their personal wheel-chairs in order to maintain purity, cleanliness and sanctity of the temple,” said Mr. Dhume, adding that a non-issue is being raked up “just to tarnish the image of the reputed Devasthan.”When contacted by The Hindu, the Keskars denied all the claims and charges of the temple committee. In an e-mail reply, Ms. Keskar said Sanika was deeply anguished and stressed by these charges and was no more interested in visiting any temples after the entire trauma she underwent in this episode in Goa and thereafter.The DRAG president, Avelio de Sa, who took up the complaint of the family with State Disability Rights Commissioner and police, on Saturday replied to the temple president with a copy to Chief Minister, saying, “It is totally false that the wheel-chair facility of the temple was offered to the Keskars which they refused. As can be seen from his letter Mr. Dhume clearly admits that the temple has no provision to accommodate wheel-chairs. It is also false that the Keskars did not approach the temple committee to redress their grievances. When the temple security guard refused entry to the Keskars with their wheelchair Ms. [Shubhada] Keskar spoke to Secretary of temple committee Anil Kenkre who did not mention anything about the temple having a wheel-chair. On the contrary he told them that they were not invited to the temple.”Denying the charge of tarnishing the image of the temple outright, as regards the purity and sanctity of the temple being affected with the entry of personal wheel-chairs, the DRAG asked, ” We would also like to know if God would have any objections to his “divyangs” entering the temple with their personal wheel-chair? We wish to bring to your notice that many temples in India are accessible for persons with disability and are allowing persons with disability to take their personal wheel-chair into the temple.”The DRAG has requested Mr. Parrikar to direct the temple committee to issue public apology to the Keskars and also to direct the temple committee to make the temple accessible for persons with disabilities within six months.last_img