Mumbai, Oct 24: Lawyers and activists today hailed the Haji Ali Dargah Trust's stand in the Supreme Court that it will allow female worshippers to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the famous shrine here, calling it a boost to women's rights movement and victory for Constitution.
Gender equality campaigner Trupti Desai termed the decision of the Trust as a "victory of women worshippers and Indian Constitution". The Desai-led outfit Bhumata Ranragini Brigade had started a campaign against gender bias at various religious places, including Haji Ali Dargah.
"Due to pressure of the Supreme Court and women organisations fighting against gender bias, the trustees of Haji Ali Dargah had to take this decision," Desai told PTI.
Human rights activist and lawyer Abha Singh termed the development as "a boost to women's rights movement" and said it is a clear message that women cannot be chained.
"This is a clear message to all misogynistic elements that you cannot chain women anymore. It's a boost to women's rights movement. Haji Ali Dargah Trust, by agreeing to allow women to enter the sanctum sanctorum, has upheld the superiority of Constitution," she said.
"The Bombay High Court had clearly said the entry ban violated Articles 14, 15 and 25 of Constitution which gave women right to equality and prohibited all forms of discrimination," she pointed out.
The SC has granted four weeks time to the Trust to make requisite infrastructural and other changes for compliance of the Bombay High Court order lifting ban on women from entering the core area of the renowned Muslim shrine in South Mumbai.
Suhail Khandwani, a trustee of the Dargah, said a meeting of the management and others, including architects and advocates, will be convened soon to facilitate entry of women in the inner area. Khandwani claimed the shrine's doors were always open for women, but treasury boxes put up near the sanctum sanctorum acted as barriers for their entry.
"Women's entry was already allowed with separate entrance and exit for male and female worshippers. A few boxes were placed which blocked the view of the sanctum sanctorum and became missing link between women and the sanctorum.
These boxes will be shifted, paving the way for women's entry again," he said. Khandwani said Islam as well as Constitution speaks about gender equality.
The Dargah, situated on an islet 500 metres away from the coast, courted controversy in 2012 when shrine management suddenly put curbs on women from entering the core worship area. Activists across all faiths, NGOs and Muslim women had launched movements opposing the ban and challenged the decision in the HC.