Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Gujarat’s Haji Ali: PIL for entry of women in Patan’s shrine

Inspired by success of women in gaining entry to Mumbai's Haji Ali Dargah's sanctum, two women have taken up a similar issue and demanded that women and girls should be permitted to enter in the sanctum of Hazrat Maulana Mehbub ki Dargah in the north Gujarat town of Patan.

Denied entry to women in the shrine's sanctum, the two petitioners - Deepika Shinde and Alfia Lacewala have filed a public interest litigation in Gujarat high court seeking directions to all concerned authorities to allow women to enter the shrine so that they too can worship and perform rituals.

Citing constitutional provisions that guarantee equality and freedom to practice and propagate religion, the petitioners have based their arguments on Bombay high court's historic verdict passed last year permitting women to enter Mumbai's Haji Ali Dargah, where the trust had prohibited women's entry to its sanctum.

The petitioners have submitted that they had been consistently requesting authorities and concerned trust in this regard. They were making representations before the state government, Patan district collector, mamlatdar, Gujarat Wakf Board, and the trust that manages the shrine and its caretaker, Jamaluddin Faruki, for last eight months.
When there was no response from concerned authorities, the petitioners filed a PIL making all concerned authorities party-respondents in the litigation. The high court is likely to take up the matter on Wednesday.

The trust that manages Hazrat Maulana Mehbub Dargah and the graveyard alongside gathered a controversy a few years ago. Interestingly, the trust was headed earlier by a woman. In 2011, following a dispute, the Wakf Board had prohibited entry of the present caretaker to the shrine. Government authorities took up the administration and the shrine was locked. The high court was then moved by the trust for removal of the lock so that followers could worship and perform rituals at the place.

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