HC allows women's entry in Haji Ali dargah's

Pune: Elated after the Bombay High Court verdict allowing women's entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai, members of city-based Bhumata Ranragini Brigade led by Trupti Desai, who has been spearheading the fight for gender equality in all places of worship, have chose to visit the shrine this weekend.

The PIL filed them states that gender justice is inherent in Quran and the decision contravenes the Hadith, which proves that there is no prohibition on women visiting graves.

"Men and women both go to Haj. there women are allowed to go right up to Kaaba. women can go to mazaars all over the world", said Soman adding that "it was a great setback for us" when the Haji Ali Trust barred women from entering its sanctum sanctorum in 2012.

"In fact, the right to manage the Trust can not override the right to practice religion itself, as Article 26 can not be seen to abridge or abrogate the right guaranteed under Article 25", said the HC.

"We are very happy today that the court has come to our rescue", Bibi Khatoon, an activist with the BMMA, reporters.

Ms. Niaz, who is the co-founder of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), had filed the petition in 2014 along with her counterpart, Zakia Soman.

While lifting the ban, a division bench of Justices V M Kanade and Revati Mohite Dere held that the said ban on women's entry was a violation of fundamental rights.

The State government had batted for women saying they can not be banned inside the inner sanctum unless it is shown that banning them is integral to Islam.

Friday's order is being seen as a big boost for other campaigns to allow women entry into other places of worship.

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The incident comes on the same day as the city was hit by two other bombing incidents, one just a few steps away from a mosque. Kirkuk has seen a rise in ethnic tensions following the Islamic State group's blitz across northern and western Iraq in 2014.

The shrine, which lies on a small islet half a kilometre off the coast of Mumbai, includes a mosque and a dargah, or tomb, in memory of Sayeed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, a 15th century merchant-turned-Sufi saint.

The petitioners in the PIL have claimed that the shrine used to allow women inside the sanctum sanctorum between 1865 and 2012, though through separate queues and entry points.

Terming the ban a violation of the fundamental rights of a person enshrined in the Constitution, the judges stayed their verdict for six weeks to allow an appeal in the Supreme Court.

The women group led by Desai will visit the shrine in the heart of Mumbai on 28 August.

"The shrine management is challenging the high court order in the Supreme Court and we are fine with that".

The trust contended that the ban was "for the safety and security of women".

It had also said that by disallowing women from entering the sanctum sanctorum, the trust was saving women from much jostling, overcrowding, unwanted touch and even possible theft. It's a democratic country and they have the right to do that.

Earlier in April, the Bombay high court had passed a similar ruling lifting ban on women's entry to the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.

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