The recent incident where 17-year old Sanika Keskar was denied entry to the Mangueshi Temple due to being handicapped and in a wheelchair has now taken a different turn.
No wheelchair was offered, says Sanika Keskar’s mother
On the 18th of October, Sanika Keskar, a Class XI humanities student of Mahatma Education Society in Panvel, came to offer prayers at Mangueshi Temple with her family. The temple management informed her mother, Shubada that the temple structure was too small to accommodate a wheelchair inside. Although, wheelchair-bound individuals can still visit the temple campus if they want.
Now, her mother claims that while they did mention all this, they went on to make contradictory statements which she says reinforces the stand she is taking as well as the point she intended to make.
“Shree Manguesh Devasthan president C V Dhume gave a statement to TOI stating that the temple structure is too small and it is impossible to accommodate a wheelchair inside. But later he said, even in his representation to Goa CM, that the temple does not allow visitors to use their own wheelchair to maintain the sanctity of the temple. The management has its own wheelchair since 2004. If the temple structure is too small to accommodate a wheelchair inside, then why has the temple kept a wheelchair since 2004?” Keskar said.
Mrs Keskar also insisted that the temple release its CCTV footage of the incident involving the Keskar family in order to prove the devasthan’s claims. According to her, the devasthan claimed that the family declined to use the wheelchair. She also said that all they offered was a chair. However, this would have been difficult to carry Sanika in on and also possibly uncomfortable for her.
A Human Rights issue
As of now, the Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) has also gotten involved. It’s president Mr Avelino De Sa has demanded that the temple committee make a public apology to the Keskar family for denying them entry to the temple. Mr. de Sa and the DRAG have also insisted that the temple management ensure that the temple campus as well the interior is made accessible for handicapped individuals, within the next six months.