For the first time since its establishment nearly 100 years ago, the Poona Kerala Muslim Jamaat has set up a dedicated wing for the women of the community. The association has appointed Shani Naushad as the first president of the women’s wing. “The women of the community are happy to have a wing started by the Jamaat. What’s heartening is that while the Kerala Muslim Jamaat has offices across the country in various cities, the Poona branch is the first one to set up a women’s wing,” said Naushad.
Abdul Gafoor, trustee of the Jamaat, said, “For the past few years, a lot of women have been participating in the events and initiatives carried out by the Jamaat, but we didn’t have a dedicated wing for the women of the community… women are excelling in various fields… they will bring their ideas to the table and contribute towards the development of the community.”
Talking about the future plans of the women’s wing, Naushad said, “First, I will bring together all the women of the community. After an interaction with them, I will chart out the future plans of the wing. The first priority will be education…the women’s wing will try and… increase the literacy rate in the community.”
The Jamaat has nearly 500 members attached to it, which includes 75 women members. Gafoor shared that more than 95 years ago, the Jamaat was set up as the ‘Dead Body Committee’, after an outbreak of cholera in the city. It used to help carry out the last rites of Muslim Keralites who did not have any relatives in the city. The Committee’s office was located in the Dandekar building near the City Post Office, and its members would meet there every month. As the years passed, the committee widened its horizons and started helping people of the community in other areas also.
About 55 years ago, the Dead Body Committee was dissolved and renamed the Poona Kerala Muslim Jamaat. “The Jamaat works in various areas. We reach out to migrants from Kerala if they face any problems. We also help financially weak people from the community when they are in need of medical care or hospitalisation. If someone from the community has died and the body needs to be sent to Kerala, but the family can’t bear the expenses, we pitch in. We also felicitate meritorious students from the community,” said Gafoor.
While the main office of the Poona Kerala Muslim Jamaat is in Pune city, it started another branch in PCMC around 10 years ago. The PCMC branch, which has 50 women members, recently appointed Baby Zafar as the president of its newly-introduced women’s wing.