In a big victory in the fight to ensure gender equality, a group of women on Tuesday entered the sanctum sanctorum of Mumbai’s famous Haji Ali dargah after five years.
A group of 75-80 women led by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) co-founder Noorjehan S Niaz entered the dargah, located on the rocks off Worli in the Arabian Sea, at around 3 pm.
“It will be routine now, we have not informed the police or the Dargah trust. We shall pay our respects and come out,” said Niaz.
The women offered floral tributes, ‘chadars’ and prayed 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.
Till June 2012, women were allowed entry up to the sanctum sanctorum comprising the grave (mazaar) of revered Muslim saint, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, but suddenly it was stopped by the Dargah’s trustees.
In 2014, the BMMA and others challenged the move of the Haji Ali Dargah Trust in the courts.
On August 26, Justice VM 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.