New Delhi, November 24: The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Thursday asked the Centre and the Delhi government to take appropriate action against the ban on the entry of ‘girls’ into the Jama Masjid here, calling it gender-biased and a violation of fundamental rights of women worshippers.
The mosque administration has put up notices outside the main gates banning the entry of ‘girls’, whether alone or in groups, and as controversy escalated, its Shahi Imam said the order is not applicable to those coming to offer prayers. Delhi’s Jama Masjid Bans Women’s Entry Without Men: DCW Takes Suo Moto Cognizance, Serves Notice.
The Constitution guarantees citizens the right to religious freedom and associated cultural practices, and prohibits gender-based discrimination, the NCW, which took suo motu cognisance of the matter, said.
The notices, which have no date, came up a few days ago outside the three main entry gates of the mosque, said sources in the administration of the 17th century Mughal era monument that attracts thousands of devout as well as tourists. However, it has come to attention only now.
“The diktat of Jama Masjid is gender-biased and is a violation of fundamental rights of the women worshippers to pray. Chairperson Rekha Sharma has written to secretary, ministry of minority affairs and secretary, department of social welfare, government of Delhi to take appropriate action in the matter and to ensure the right of women to practice religion as enshrined in the Constitution,” the NCW said in its statement. Delhi’s Jama Masjid Bans Solitary, Group Entry of Women and Girls, Place Three Plaques of ‘Diktat’ Outside Mosque.
The commission has also written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to look into the matter and take appropriate measures, it said. The issue led to an outrage in some quarters as women rights activists termed the mosque’s decision regressive and unacceptable. Ranjana Kumari, an activist, said this is completely unacceptable. “What kind of 10th century mindset is this. We are a democratic country how can they do this. How can they bar women,” she told PTI.
“This diktat takes us 100 years back. This is not just regressive but shows what kind of mindset these religious groups have about girls. It is extremely unfortunate,” Yogita Bhayana , another women rights activist, said.
The notice by the mosque’s administration reads,”Jama Masjid mein ladki ya ladkiyon ka akele daakhla mana hai (The entry of a girl, or girls is not permitted in Jama Masjid).” According to Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam, the decision was taken after some “incidents” were reported on the premises of the heritage structure.
“Jama Masjid is a place of worship and people are welcome for that. But girls coming alone and waiting for their dates… this is not what this place is meant for. The restriction is on that,” Bukhari told PTI.
“Any such place, be it a mosque, temple or gurudwara is a place of worship (ibadat ki jagah hai) and there is no restriction on anyone coming for that purpose. Just today, a group of 20-25 girls visited and they were allowed to enter,” Bukhari added.