A disability rights organisation on Monday demanded action against the trustees of a popular Hindu temple in south Goa for allegedly denying entry to a handicapped girl hailing from Mumbai into the temple premises last month. The trustee denied the allegation. Goa-based NGO Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG), in its complaint to the South Goa Superintendent of Police, contended that denial of entry to 17-year-old Mumbai-based Sanika Keskar, within the inner precincts of the Mangueshi temple because of her disability, was illegal.

“This is outright discrimination and abuse of physically challenged person, which is a criminal offence under Section 92(a) of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016. We also wish to bring to notice that denial of right to worship is a serious offence as right to worship is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India,” said the complaint filed by DRAG’s Avelino D’Sa. It sought a criminal offence be registered against the Mangueshi temple committee member Anil Kenkre under the relevant sections of the disability rights act and the Indian Penal Code immediately.

On October 17, Sanika, who was on a visit to the 18th century temple with her parents, was allegedly denied entry by temple authorities. An online petition which was floated by Sanika’s mother, Shubhada, caught the attention of the Goa-based DRAG, which filed the formal complaint with police on Monday. Kenkre, a member of the Mangueshi Temple Committee has however said, that it would not be correct to say that the 17-year-old was “denied entry” into temple, but also admitted that there was no facility to ferry her wheel-chair into the inner precincts of the temple.

“I exactly don’t remember what they asked me and details of our conversation, but I am very clear, that we never deny right to any person to enter the temple and pray,” he told reporters here. “What I told them is there is no facility to take the wheel-chair inside the temple, but it would not be correct to say that we denied them entry,” he added.