NEW DELHI, Nov 24: The administration of Delhi’s famed Jama Masjid has put up notices outside the main gates banning the entry of girls or women, either alone or in groups. As the issue led to outrage in some quarters, the Shahi Imam stepped in to say the order was not applicable to those coming to offer prayers.
The notices, which have no date, is learnt to have been put up a few days ago outside the three main entry gates, but has come to attention on Thursday. “Jama Masjid mein ladki ya ladkiyon ka akele daakhla mana hai [The entry of a girl/woman, or girls/women is not permitted in Jama Masjid]” reads the notice by the administration.
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal termed it a violation of women’s rights and said she was issuing a notice. “It is completely wrong to ban the entry of women in Jama Masjid. The kind of rights a man has to praying, women also have the same rights. I am issuing a notice to imam of Jama Masjid. Nobody has the right to ban entry of women in this way,” she said on Twitter. The 17th century Mughal era monument attracts thousands of devout as well as tourists.
Defending the notice, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam, said 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,” the Shahi Imam said.
“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,” the Shahi Imam added.