Local Goa News

Sunday, August 21, 2016

1,000 sit on hunger strike at Marcaim temple

Communities from surrounding villages join in; over 5,000 visit temple to extend moral support

PONDA: The day-long hunger strike by Marcaim villagers, demanding equal religious rights, received a shot in the arm when leaders of many Bahujan communities and kulavies joined in, on Sunday at the Navudurga temple.

The Marcaim villagers have been fighting for equal rights as the Mahajans have, to offer prayers and perform rituals in Navudurga temple.
“With large number of Bahujan communities joining in the agitation, the fight for equal religious rights is no longer the fight of Marcaim villagers alone, but of the entire Bahujans Samaj,” said Shailendra Panajikar, who is heading the agitation in Marcaim.
He said at the hunger strike, the people decided to launch a massive and decisive agitation for repealing the Mahajan Act and introducing the Hindu Upsana and Idol Protection Act.
Communities that joined in the hunger strike included those from Mangueshi, Shiroda, Shantadurga in Kavlem, Khandepar, Mahalsa at Mardol, Nagueshi and Mahalaxmi in Bandora.
On Sunday, around 1000 people sat on hunger strike, while over 5000 visited the temple throughout the day to extend moral support to those on hunger strike.
Prominent among those who visited the temple on Sunday include trade union leader Raju Manugeshkar, Ponda Councillor and former chairperson Venktesh Naik, Avinash Ramnathkar of Gomantak Maratha Samaj, N Shivdas of Devli Khuli Kara Movement, Anil Raikar and Shashi Naik.
On the occasion, Trade Union leader Raju Mangueshkar said that injustice by Mahjans was not new to him and he has experienced it since his childhood.
N Shivdas said that he has experienced ill treatment to Bahujans since his childhood when he himself was removed from the inner sanctorum of a temple, while the children of Mahajans were allowed entry there.
Narrating how the Mahajans came to dominate the affairs of the temples, he said that the original 1856 Mahajans Act gave Mahajania right to all Bahujans Samaj, but it was changed by some Mahajans in 1887.
In 1887, Shivdas said, the drafting committee of the Act had as its members a particular branch of Mahajans, who included the provision that only those belonging to their community can become Mahajans.
Taking advantage of the illiteracy of the Bahujans, Shivdas said, the Mahjans took possession of all the temples and deprived them of equal religious rights.
Shivdas opined that since the temples receive funds from the public by way of offerings, it should be brought under the purview of RTI Act so that crores of rupees could be utilised for public purpose.
Avinash Ramnathkar said he was also harassed by Mahajans at Ramnathi.
Anil Raikar said that he started a movement at Shiroda against Mahjans Act, but police force was deployed to neutralise his movement.
Anil Raikar appealed to PWD Minister Sudin Davllikar to bring in a bill or resolution for amending the Mahajan Act and also appealed the chief minister to look into matter and give justice to Bahujans.

Herald Goa News

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