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Trupti Desai slaps murder accused — taking activism too far or well-justified?

Sharika Nair
8th Feb 2017
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Founder of Bhumata Brigade Trupti Desai along with other women from the activist group set off a commotion in Pune’s district court premises when they broke the police cordon and slapped Bhaben Saikia, the accused in the murder of Infosys techie Rasila Raju in January.

Saikia had been produced before the judicial magistrate on Tuesday so the court could issue a directive for his remand in magisterial custody.

Trupti, who has been in the news for her struggle to get women entry in several places of worship, was waiting in the open space outside the court building with her supporters, according to a TOI report. Police personnel had thrown a cordon around Saikia while taking him to a police van waiting nearby. Trupti and two women managed to break the cordon and slap Saikia thrice. The melee was brought under control after two women police personnel moved the women away from the murder accused.

Security guard Bhaben Saikia had confessed to murdering young techie Rasila Raju because she had reprimanded him for staring at her in a lewd manner. The murder had sent shockwaves since it occurred inside IT giant Infosys' office premises, a seemingly safe place, and the murderer was a person responsible for the employees’ safety.

Trupti told TOI later, "We beat him up to send a strong signal that henceforth no young woman should face a situation like the one faced by the victim. Whenever an incident like this happens, our activists will resort to similar protests."

Since the police is responsible for security on the court premises, they will be registering an offence against Trupti and other members of the Bhumata Brigade under sections 353 (obstructing public servant), 341 (wrongful restraint) based on an FIR lodged by the head of the escort team accompanying Saikia.

Trupti had previously stormed inside Shani Shinganapur temple last year, which prohibits women from entering the sanctum. Trupti also got into a scuffle inside the famous Mahalaxmi temple in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, because she was wearing a salwar-kameez and not a sari -- the mandated dress code to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Trupti’s fight has been to assert the Bombay High Court’s ruling that entry to temples was a fundamental right of women.

Trupti also marched into the iconic Haji Ali to seek entry for Muslim women into the dargah. The Haji Ali Dargah Trust later told the Supreme Court that they have accepted the court ruling, and will grant access to women into the inner sanctum of the dargah, which is as far as the men are allowed.

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