18/05/2016 12:18 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Women's Entry To Places Of Worship Is A Religious Issue, Not Sure If State Should Intrude, Says Maneka Gandhi

Adnan Abidi / Reuters
India’s Women and Child Welfare minister Maneka Gandhi, works on a computer before an interview with Reuters at her office in New Delhi, India, October 19, 2015. India's main program to fight child malnutrition has been hit by budget cuts that make it difficult to pay wages of millions of health workers, a cabinet minister said on Monday in a rare public criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policies. Gandhi, the women and child welfare minister who oversees a scheme to feed more than 100 million poor people, said the current budget was only enough to pay salaries of her 2.7 million health workers until January. "We still have problems because our cut has still not been restored. Literally, it's a month-to-month suspense on whether we can meet wages," Gandhi told Reuters in an interview. To match interview INDIA-HEALTH/MALNUTRITION REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

NEW DELHI -- Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi does not think that the government can decide whether women can enter religious places of worship or not. She called it a religious issue and suggested that the "society" should decide on it.

"Some things should be left outside the government’s purview. Let the society decide on it," she told Indian Express. "In this particular case, it is about religion and I am not sure the state should intrude. In all democracies, there is a clear demarcation between religion and the state."

Gandhi had earlier this year said that society should decide on whether women should be allowed to enter certain areas of places of worship. "The society will itself level it out. There should not be any political comment on it," she had said.

Women's rights activists have been trying to gain access to the inner sanctum of several temples, and most recently the Haji Ali dargah, where only men are allowed to enter. Several women's rights groups have found support from political leaders on the issue even as some political groups have asked the issue not to be politicised.

Last month, the Supreme Court had said that Indian temples cannot bar women from entering places of worship.

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