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'Everyone has the right to pray but not right to desecrate', says Smriti Irani on Sabarimala row

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New Delhi, Oct 23: Amid debate around women's entry into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, Union minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday said the right to pray did not mean the right to desecrate.

"I am nobody to speak against the Supreme Court verdict as I am a serving cabinet minister. But just plain common sense is that would you carry a napkin seeped with menstrual blood and walk into a friend's house. You would not. And would you think it is respectful to do the same when you walk into the house of god? That is the difference. I have the right to pray, but no right to desecrate. That is the difference that we need to recognise and respect," Irani said.

Everyone has the right to pray but not right to desecrate, says Smriti Irani on Sabarimala row

The Union textile minister was speaking at the "Young Thinkers" conference organised by the British High Commission and the Observer Research Foundation here.

Irani's comments, initially perceived to be supporting restrictions on menstruating women, were slammed on Twitter.

Irani, however, denied making the comments.

"Fake news ...... calling you out on it. Will post my video soon," she tweeted.

After facing severe backlash, she defended her comments saying that people were jumping the gun and no one really takes a blood soaked napkin to 'offer' to any one let alone a friend.

The Supreme Court had in September lifted the ban that prevented women of menstruating age from entering the 800-year-old Sabarimala temple in a 4-1 majority verdict, saying divinity and devotion cannot be subject to the rigidity and stereotypes of gender.

Also Read | Sabarimala Temple verdict: SC to hear review petitions on November 13

The court said the exclusion on the basis of biological and physiological features was unconstitutional and discriminatory because it denied women the right to be treated as equals.

However, no woman was able to enter the shrine amid protests by devotees, the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and various Hindu organisations.

On October 13, Malayalam actor Kollam Thulasi, a BJP supporter, issued an open threat against the ban on entry of women into Sabarimala temple, saying that any woman who attempts to enter the temple should be "ripped apart".

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