The Maharashtra government on Saturday allowed the religious places in the state to reopen from Monday (November 16) as the Central Government guidelines for Unlock 6.0. Issuing an order, Maharashtra’s Uddhav Thackeray government made wearing of masks mandatory for all visitors. In the order, the state government said devotees must follow the COVID-19 guidelines while visiting religious places.
The decision has taken by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government as the demand for reopening religious places has grown louder in Maharashtra. The priests had threatened to go on an indefinite strike against the state government if their demands were not met. The deadline that was earlier given to the Maharashtra government to decide on reopening of temples was November 1.
“All religious places in the state to re-open for devotees from Monday, 16th November. Wearing the mask will be compulsory, all COVID norms will have to be followed,” the Maharashtra government order stated.
“The people of the state observed discipline during this (COVID) period. That is why the situation in Maharashtra has not gone out of hand as compared to other states. Maharashtra has always blessed by saints, gods, and goddesses. However, Holi, Ganeshotsav, Navratra and Pandharpur wari did not take place as a precaution. Not only that, but other religions also observed discipline during Eid and Mount Mary fair,” said Thackeray in a statement.
CM gets Flak on religious matter
Earlier, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had said that he held out on reopening religious places under Unlock 6.0 because of the risk to senior citizens who visit them
However, the state government said that they will release SOPs later. Nevertheless, the wearing of face masks while visiting places of worship in the state is mandatory. He warned people that those found without face masks must have to pay fine.
Earlier, opposition BJP and Prakash Ambedkar (grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar) led Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi had held separate protests demanding the early opening of temples. Some organisations affiliated with the RSS-BJP had made similar demands.
On facing protests, the chief minister had said he was getting flak for going slow on reopening of places of religious worship. “We are being careful and not re-opening temples as people will queue up. I am delaying reopening of temples to curb the spread of coronavirus. I am ready to face criticism. Those critics will not come forward to take responsibility if virus infection increases,” Uddhav Thackeray had said earlier.