Nearly 200 members of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) will visit the Haji Ali Dargah on Tuesday for the first time after the dargah trust decided to provide equal access to women inside the sanctum sanctorum.
The BMMA had led the fight seeking equal access for women to the dargah. It had filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court in August 2014 against the “blatant discrimination on the ground of gender alone”, saying it impinged on their fundamental rights, and also “the failure of the state to eliminate inequalities”.
Watch What Else Is making News
“Members of our national body will be in Mumbai tomorrow and we have decided to visit the dargah to pay our respects,” said BMMA co-founder Noorjehan Safia Naiz. Over 200 women members of the BMMA are expected to visit the dargah on Tuesday afternoon.
The Haji Ali Trust last month had assured the Supreme Court that it would provide equal access to both men and women at the dargah. In the plan it has submitted to the Supreme Court, it has earmarked a dedicated 181 sqft of new space through which women could get close to the mazhar. The new plan earmarks dedicated areas of 461 sqft for women and 404.72 sqft for men inside the dargah. Women will have access to 181 sqft of space which lies in the immediate vicinity of the mazhar.
The Haji Ali Trust had earlier barred women from this section and had limited their access to only 275 sqft roughly 3 ft away from the tomb from where they could pray but could not touch the tomb. This restriction had led to the trust being dragged to court. Men have access to 224 sqft of space in the immediate vicinity of the mazhar where saint Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari is interred.
The trustees had decided to stop access for women sometime in 2011 to the grave, calling the practice un-Islamic. This had led to the BMMA filing a PIL in the High Court in August 2014.