India court says women have 'fundamental right' to enter temples

Indian devotees offer prayers at a Shiva temple on occasion of Mahashivratri festival in Ahmadabad, India, Monday, March 7, 2016. Image copyright AP
Image caption The court said women had a 'fundamental right' to pray where they wanted

Women in the western state of Maharashtra have a fundamental right to enter and pray inside temples, an Indian court has ruled.

The Bombay High Court said the government had to protect this right.

The ruling was made in response to a petition filed by an activist against the centuries-old tradition of barring women from certain temples.

In January, hundreds of women in the state were stopped from marching to a temple traditionally open only to men.

Protests by a group called the Bhumata Ranragini Brigade (Women Warriors of Mother Earth) have seen crowds of women regularly trying to "break into" temples for the "right to pray" in the state.

The Maharashtra government has promised to implement the ruling, and said any person attempting to prevent women from entering any temple would be imprisoned for six months, the PTI news agency said.

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