After 5 years of legal battle, women re-enter Haji Ali dargah
A group of women entered famous Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai on Tuesday after five years and a series of legal struggles.
A group of around 75-80 women from all over India visited the tomb on the rocks of Worli facing the Arabian sea of the Muslim saint for prayers around 3 pm.
“It will be routine now, we have not informed the police or the dargah trust. We shall pay our respects and come out,” Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) co-founder Noorjehan S Niaz told IANS.
Women were allowed to enter up to the sanctum sanctorum comprising the mazaar (grave) of the saint Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari till 2012. Suddenly the entry of women was forbidden.
The move was challenged by BMMA and others in the courts in 2014.
In August, Bombay High Court on August ruled in favour of the petitioners and ordered the trust to allow equal access to women. The trust challenged the order in the Supreme Court.
Upholding equal access to men and women the apex court on October 24 delivered its verdict, following which the trust expressed its readiness to allow women till the sanctum sanctorum and sought four weeks of time for arrangements.
On Tuesday, the women paid floral tributes and ‘chadars’.
“It was a fight for equality, ending gender bias and our constitutional rights. We are happy that it has resulted in women and men getting equal unrestricted access right till the sanctum sanctorum,” Ms Niaz said.
A trustee of the dargah, Suhail Khandwani, had informed that separate facilities had been devised for entries of women and men so that nobody would be allowed to touch the tomb.
With rights of equal access to all regardless of gender, all devotees have to wait and pray nearly two metres away from the tomb under the new arrangements.
Under the new arrangements, all devotees would wait and pray nearly two metres away from the tomb with rights of equal access to all.