Mumbai, Nov 6 (IANS) The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), a women's group, Tuesday expressed anger over entry restrictions for women at the iconic Haji Ali shrine in the city.
However, the shrine trust said that the entry curbs have been in place since many years now, and that the women were out only to get cheap publicity.
"We had visited the shrine in August and were restricted from entering the sanctum sanctorum, where the saint's grave is," Noorjehan Safia Niaz, founding member of BMMA, told IANS.
Anguished at the curbs, members of BMMA surveyed 20 shrines of the city and said that only seven of these did not allow women near the grave.
"But what worries us is that eventually the curbs will be put in place at all dargahs. Since Haji Ali is an iconic shrine, others will soon follow suit," Niaz added.
President of the Haji Ali Dargah Trust S.M. Merchant, however, said that women can read their prayers, do namaz and offer shawls and flowers. They are allowed within the premises.
"But since Sharia law does not allow women entry to a cemetery or a grave, they are just not allowed to go near the grave. Can they not respect the Sharia law?" asked Merchant.
Niaz, however, said that the trustees of Haji Ali Dargah claimed that such a decision was taken only after the authorities noticed that a woman came inappropriately dressed last year.
"We will write to Minorities Minister Arif Naseem Khan, the state minorities commission and the trustees of Haji Ali," Niaz said.
"They need to intervene to curb such a regressive trend," she added.
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