New Delhi, Sep 25 (PTI) The NHRC has issued notices to the governments and police chiefs of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh over the alleged inhuman treatment being meted out to girls and women who are forcibly taken to temples as part of an old ritual that resembles the banned ‘Devadasi’ system.

The girls and women are taken to temples of Goddess Mathamma for “offering” in Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu and adjoining places, the Commission today said, while observing that allegations made in the complaint as well as a media report about the continuance of this practice are “serious in nature”.

Accordingly, it has issued notices to the chief secretaries and the director generals of police of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and to the district magistrates and superintendents of police of Thiruvallur and Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, and sought reports in four weeks.

“Allegedly, as part of the ritual, the girls are dressed up as a bride and once the ceremony is over, their dresses are removed by five boys, virtually leaving them naked.

“They are denied to live with their families and have education. They are forced to live in Mathamma temple deemed to be like a public property and face sexual exploitation,” the National Human Rights Commission said.

The rights panel has also observed that if the allegations are true, these amount to violation of human rights, including the right to education, rights to life and dignity besides the children’s rights.

This practice is allegedly “another form of Devadasi system”, which is still practiced in some parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, it said in a statement.

Devadasi system is a banned religious practice in some parts of India whereby parents marry a daughter to a deity or a temple. The marriage usually occurs before the girl reaches puberty.

There have been allegations that Devadasis are often subjected to sexual exploitation in the name of religion.

The Union Home Ministry in December 2015 had asked all states to take strong action against those involved in the heinous practice which is against the dignity of women.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.