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Women Re-enter Haji Ali After 5 Years; Activist Says Sabarimala Next

CNN-News18

First published: November 29, 2016, 4:52 PM IST | Updated: November 29, 2016
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Women Re-enter Haji Ali After 5 Years; Activist Says Sabarimala Next
Representational Image. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Mumbai: After five years, a series of legal battles and agitations, a group of 80 women activists entered the famous Haji Ali dargah (mausoleum) here on Tuesday afternoon, an activist said. This was the first time after the Supreme Court upheld their right to pray on grounds of equal access to men and women.

"It will be routine now, we have not informed the police or the Dargah trust. We shall pay our respects and come out," said Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) co-founder Noorjehan S. Niaz.

Trupti Desai, who is the torch-bearer of the 'right to pray' movement for women, has told CNN-News18 that Sabarimala in Kerala is her next destination.

The Supreme Court is yet to give verdict on women's entry in Sabarimala. The Left Front government in Kerala is in favour of women's entry.

Till June 2012, women were allowed entry upto the sanctum sanctorum including the grave of revered Muslim saint, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, but suddenly it was stopped.

In 2014, the BMMA and others challenged the move of the Haji Ali Dargah Trust in the courts.

On August 26, Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice Revathi Mohite-Dhere had ruled in favour of the petitioners and directed the trust to allow equal access to women, which the trust challenged in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on October 24 delivered its verdict on grounds of equal access to men and women, even as the trust expressed readiness to allow women inside till the sanctum sanctorum.

The Trust authorities sought four weeks' time to make certain infrastructural changes and alterations to accommodate the women devotees, who would now throng the shrine.

Niaz said the women would offer floral tributes, 'chadars' and pray for peace at the Dargah.

"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," Niaz pointed out.

A trustee of the Dargah, Suhail Khandwani said that there would be separate entries to the shrine for men and women and henceforth nobody would be allowed to touch the peer's tomb.

Under the new arrangements, all devotees would wait and pray nearly two metres away from the tomb with rights of equal access to all.

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