'India Or Iran?': Ban On Women's Entry Into Delhi's Jama Masjid Sparks Row

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal termed the ban on 'women's' entry into Jama Masjid a violation of women's rights and said she was issuing a notice.

Friday prayers at Jama Masjid

Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal asked whether we were "India or Iran" in her response to the recent ban on entry of 'women' into Jama Masjid.

The administration of Delhi's famed Jama Masjid has put up notices outside the main gates banning the entry of 'girls', whether alone or in groups. As the issue led to outrage in some quarters, the Shahi Imam stepped in to say the order is not applicable to those coming to offer prayers. 

What does the notice say?

The notices, which have no date, came up a few days ago outside the three main entry gates, sources in the administration said. However, it has come to attention only now 

"Jama Masjid mein ladki ya ladkiyon ka akele daakhla mana hai (The entry of a girl, or girls is not permitted in Jama Masjid)," reads the notice by the administration. 

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 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," Bukhari added. 

DCW takes cognisance

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 the imam of Jama Masjid. Nobody has the right to ban entry of women in this way," she said on Twitter. 

"This is a shameful and unconstitutional act. This ban will be removed at any cost. This is India not Iran," Swati Maliwal further said.

Preventing women from freely entering and practising their religion in the mosque is highly discriminatory and an extremely regressive practice as a place of worship should be open to everyone, regardless of their gender," DCW's notice read.

"Such an order is clearly misogynistic and against the ethos of the Constitution of India," it stated.


Women's rights activists hit out

Women rights activists hit out at the mosque's administration, saying it takes women centuries back. 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 reporters.

"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's rights activist, said. 

The move is 'anti-woman': VHP

The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Thursday termed as anti-women and unconstitutional the ban on the entry of 'girls' into Delhi's Jama Masjid and demanded that the mosque's administration withdraw its decision.

RSS-affiliate VHP also demanded that authorities take swift action to "tighten noose" around those involved in putting up such notices outside the main gates of the mosque. The notices, which have no date, came up a few days ago outside the three main entry gates, sources in the famed mosque's administration said. However, it has come to attention only now.

"It's an anti-woman, anti-Constitution move. The notices banning the entry of girls into Jama Masjid should immediately be withdrawn," VHP national spokesperson Vinod Bansal demanded, reacting to the notices. Questioning the notices, he contended that the Jama Masjid is a protected monument and comes under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India.

"Here, Muslim women are being deprived of their rights to offer namaz on the basis of their gender. The constitutional authorities should take swift action to tighten the noose around those anti-women elements who were involved in banning entry of girls into the mosque," the VHP leader said.

(with PTI inputs)