Replace Mahajani Act with new law of equal rights, warn Madkai villagers

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 10 July 2016 18:42 IST

Villagers of Madkai have risen up once again, this time with a warning of fast-unto-death if Goa government does not scrap the ‘communal’ Mahajani Act and legislate a new act, giving equal rights to all.

A public meeting of villagers held at the Navdurga temple also cautioned the politicians to keep in mind that this is an election year and act accordingly.

Navdurga Pratishthan, which is fighting the Mahajans of Navdurga temple, has also demanded that the temple be taken over by the government and an administrator be appointed.

The meeting, attended by around 1000 people, expressed disgust over most of the rituals of the temple being stopped by the Mahajans.

“We want all the services of the temple to be restored. That’s the reason we want the government to take over the temple management by appointing administrator”, said Shailendra Panajikar, president of the Pratishthan.

The matter is presently being heard by the Ponda district court, which has allowed the Mahajans to continue with its management.

Precisely this is the reason, the Pratishthan has now demanded that the Mahajani Act itself be scrapped and replaced with a new act.

“The Portuguese-time act is communal and favours only one cast. We want Goa Assembly to pass a new act which would give equal rights to all the villagers, irrespective of castes”, said Panajikar.

The meeting thus today decided to approach Goa Governor as well as all the 40 legislators to pass a new legislation in the forthcoming monsoon Assembly session, beginning from 25th July.

 

They have decided to wait till 15th August, after which a one-day token hunger strike is being planned in the temple on 21st August.

“If the government does not move positively towards this, we will start fast-unto-death at Azad Maidan in Panaji”, said Panajikar, while reminding that this is an election year.

BACKGROUND                                                                                                     

The whole issue had started early this year with the villagers opposing the Mahajans' decision to replace the old idol of Shree Navdurga.

While the temple committee comprising of Brahmins had decided to go ahead with its decision, the Pratishthan had approached the Ponda court.

After hearing both the sides, on 20t April, the district court at Ponda had prohibited the temple committee from replacing the idol till final verdict is delivered.

The Pratishthan has also challenged the contention of the Mahajans that the temple is their private property.

The court thus now also needs to decide about the ownership rights of the temple, which may reflect on all the Hindu temples in Goa, which are managed under the Mahajani Act.  

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