Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi president Prakash Ambedkar arrived at Pandharpur on Monday to visit the famous Lord Vitthal temple as part of agitation to open religious places in Maharashtra.
Ambedkar, who is grandson of BR Ambedkar, arrived at the Shivaji square where a large number of followers accompanied him to enter the temple. He later marched towards the temple with a select number of followers.
“We have submitted a letter to Solapur district collector for allowing us to enter the temple. I am waiting for the administration’s response. I am appealing to all not to cross barricades put up by administration,” Ambedkar told reporters at Pandharpur.
The local administration at Pandharpur has put up checkpoints at entry and exit points to the temple town while barricading the roads leading to Lord Vitthal temple in view of Monday’s agitation by the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi (VBA).
Several varkari organisations (pilgrims) have extended their support to VBA agitation that demands opening of religious places across Maharashtra.
According to Solapur Superintendent of Police, Manoj Patil, notices have been issued to VBA workers. “We have served them notices under section 149 of CrPC. We have also barricaded streets leading to the temple in order to prevent anyone visiting the religious place,” Patil said. The notices asked protesters not to break the law.
To prevent anyone from entering into the temple town, the state transport bus service has been suspended in Pandharpur for a day.
Since March 25, all the places of worship across the state have been closed for devotees in view of Covid pandemic. However, there is a growing chorus from various sectors for opening temples and other religious places. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday staged ghatna-nad (bell ringing) agitation across the state pressing for its demand to open temples.