The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday held protests outside temples in various cities in Maharashtra demanding reopening of places of worship, which have been shut since March in view of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
In Mumbai, BJP workers led by MLC Prasad Lad and Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Praveen Darekar tried to enter the famous Siddhivinayak temple as part of an agitation.
In Thane, BJP workers, led by MLAs Niranjan Davkhare and Sanjay Kelkar, rang bells as part of the 'ghanta naad' protest which was held in front of ancient Ghantali temple.
The protesters carried banners berating the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government for allowing bars and other commercial establishments to resume operations while keeping places of worship closed.
In Pune, BJP activists staged a demonstration outside the famous Tambadi Jogeshwari temple.
As part of the protest, a man was dressed as 'Kumbhakarna' -- a mythological demon from the Ramayana who was known for sleeping for months--and music instruments were played, to take potshots at the state government.
"Our protest was to wake up the state government which is sleeping like 'Kumbhkarna' on the issue of reopening of temples," said Pune city BJP president Jagdish Mulik.
In Aurangabad city, BJP workers led by party MLA Atul Save performed puja and sang devotional songs outside a temple.
"The state government has allowed reopening of various activities, including bars, markets and restaurants, across the state, but temples are still locked," he told PTI.
While the state government has relaxed various coronavirus-induced restrictions on people's movement and opened several commercial activities in the state under its 'Mission Begin Again' or unlock drive, places of worship continue to remain shut.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has informed Governor B S Koshyari that a decision on reopening places of religious worship will be taken after careful consideration of the COVID-19 situation in the state.
In his letter, Koshyari had mentioned that he received three representations from delegations demanding that places of religious worship be reopened.
'While considering the sentiments and beliefs of the people, it is also important to take care of their lives and it is wrong to impose and lift lockdown suddenly,' the CM wrote.
As on October 12, Maharashtra's COVID-19 case tally stood at 15,35,315, as per the state health department.
Meanwhile, state BJP president Chandrakant Patil told reporters that it was 'highly unfair' on part of the Uddhav Thackeray-led government to allow beer bars and restaurants to open but to keep temples closed.
He accused the government of adopting 'double standards' on the issue.
"The unlockdown is being implemented across the country step by step. There are some states where temples have been opened. In such situation, Maharashtra should do the same.
"We are ready to stand in queues outside temples and follow all the physical distancing norms," he said.