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Religious revolutions of ’16

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the passing year witnessed greater disputes over various laws, people also came out disagreeing with beliefs and customary practices that had been kept on a pedestal. Not only did women come out protesting against age old traditions barring them from being as devotional as others. They also opposed religious personal laws demanding a better quality of life, denying being a victim of things which don’t hold relevance in the 21st century.While 2016 might go down in history as one of the worst years for a few, it did have some redeeming qualities. It was a good year for many a believers who received a huge return on their spiritual investment.The greatest of all victories was when the Shani Shignapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra finally agreed to let female worshippers in after 400 years. This was the result of a long-drawn-out battle spearheaded by the Bhumata Brigade, led by the firebrand Trupti Desai. The women waged a pitched battle for their right to worship and questioned age old patriarchal practices. Not stopping here, the group of feisty women are taking their battle to other temples like the Sabrimala in Kerela where women of a menstruating age are forbidden from entering and offering prayers.The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) led by Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz, pitched a similar battle to enter the inner sanctum of Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah. The ban that was just instituted four years ago, prohibited women from entering the inner sanctum of the dargah. In August this year the Bombay High Court held that the ban against women entering the inner sanctorm of the dargah contravenes Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution of India. The court ordered the Dargah Trust to lift the ban. Though the matter went to the Supreme Court, the women emerged victorious finally entering the shrine on November 30. It was indeed a moment of pride for the Christians across the world as well, as they rejoiced at Mother Teresa being granted ‘sainthood’. The Catholic nun who had devoted her life to caring for the dying and the destitute on the streets of Kolkata, was officially canonized at the Vatican this year and rechristened Saint Teresa of Calcutta by Pope Francis. From rationalists debating over the importance given to ‘miracles’ and amid the constant accusations of conversions, no one can doubt that the Missionaries of Charity have given hope and dignity to some poorest and most miserable people in the city.Meanwhile, Pope Francis also revealed a more inclusive face of the Roman Catholic Church by asking Christians to stop hate crimes and discrimination against the LGBT community. He said that the church must apologise to gay people for marginalising them. While he did not budge from the church’s stand on marriages as being an exclusive heterosexual privilege and did not endorse same sex marriages, this has been seen as a big step forward in making the church more rainbow friendly. Mumbai’s Cardinal Oswald Gracious too asserted that gay people were not criminals and all Christians must be welcomed by the church. With the rising debate over triple talaq and the growing demand to revise the Article, the Law Commission of India released a questionnaire in October on Uniform Civil Code (UCC) asking citizens for their suggestions. With the possible introduction of UCC giving rise to a heated debate across the country many fear that the law is actually a tool to erase cultural practices and religious identities. However, the UCC, at least prima facie, is merely a uniform law that would subvert all religion based personal laws in matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance. Different faiths see UCC as a way to do away with mysogistic practices like triple talaq in Islam, polygamy in both Islam and Hinduism (permitted in Goa) and the practice of ‘maitri karar’ or ‘friendship agreement’, a practice in Gujarat that legally allows a man to have another women in his life apart from his wife. Women also hope matters related to mehr and dowry become clear. It remains to be seen how the UCC plays its part in bringing about greater gender justice.

Codify Personal law in two to three years, Muslim women

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Buoyed by the success of having equal rights access restored at the Haji Ali Daargah in the sense that both men and women will be allowed to the same point, the Bharatiya Muslims Mahila Andolan (BMMA) which had filed a public interest litigation demanded codification of personal law in two to three years and pledged to renew their fight to ban instant triple talaq and nikah halala. The group has also filed a public interest litigation (PIL) on the same with the Supreme Court. On Thursday while celebrating a decade of their existence at the Marathi Patrakar Sangh, the group also presented case studies of women who continued to suffer due to them. These included women from across the country who had gathered including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Bangalore and West Bengal among others. While some did not want their identities to be disclosed, others like Shabista Shaikh from Maharashtra did. “My husband one fine day said triple talaq over phone and ended our marriage. He was having an affair. Today I have a son to look after. He goes around telling everyone that I am mad. Was I not mad till the time I had a son?,” said Shaikh reciting her story. While hers was a case of direct divorce, Nagma, one of the members of BMMA from Rajasthan described how a woman in her state was divorced through triple talaq twice after being raped. “She was married and this person raped her and took her pictures. Those were shown to her husband. Her husband divorced her. She was married again but again through triple talaq she was divorced. The police is not even willing take an FIR,” informed Nagma about the case study. Cases studies of women getting to see their children after 22 years after triple talaq and that women’s consent not being considered while divorce were raised in the meet. Neha Khan, another victim of triple talaq who had come from MP said, “My question to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is that when Nikah is conducted, our consent is taken first. Should that not also be the case during divroce. They should tell us that.””Even though members of All India Personal Law Board call us names, use filthy language to describe us, we will now go ahead with renewed vigour to demand abolition of (instant) triple talaq and nikah halala,” said Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-convenor of BMMA. “In two to three years we also want the Muslim personal law to be codified should include age of marriage, custody, property rights among others. We do not recognize authority of personal law board. We have decided that we not going to be afraid and get cowed down by them or threats,” said Zakia Soman, co-convenor of BMMA.BMMA decides to rest Dargah fight for now The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) has decided to rest their case on Haji Ali Dargah. “Restoring status quo prior to 2011 when both men and women were allowed to touch the grave at the Haji Ali Dargah would have been ideal. But for now we are resting our case because we have got the legal and moral victory, trustees were good to us and at least no discrimination stands now. We have too much work before us so we are resting the Haji Ali Dargah matter for now,” said Soman.

Haji Ali Trust bypassed Bombay High Court order instead of implementing it: Petitioner’s lawyer

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following the Haji Ali Dargah Trust’s decision to grant access to the shrine’s sanctum sanctorum on Monday, Advocate RA Moray said that the trust had bypassed the Bombay High Court’s order instead of implementing it.Moray, who argued the case in the High Court for petitioners Noorjehan Niaz and Zakia Soman, said, “Not allowing access to men in order to bring them on par with women is not the same as allowing access to women on par with men, and it certainly cannot be termed as ‘restoration of the status quo ante’ as directed by the High Court on August 26. The High Court order is thus being bypassed rather than implemented.”Moray was referring to the Trust’s additional affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court on Monday. The affidavit says that now, both men and women would not be allowed to touch the mazhar (mausoleum) in the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine. Only the khadims of the shrine would have permission to touch it.”The Trust’s idea of ‘gender justice’ is obviously different from ours, though technically it may be in consonance with the Constitutional right to equality,” Moray added.The shrine’s Trust on Monday told the Supreme Court that women will be granted access to the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali in Mumbai on par with men, and sought four weeks to make the requisite infrastructural changes.Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the trust, said an additional affidavit had been filed on behalf of the Dargah trust, saying it was willing to allow women inside the shrine. A bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao granted time asked for to the trust and disposed off its appeal against the Bombay High Court order asking it to give equal access to women also.BackgroundThe Bombay High Court had allowed a PIL filed by two women, Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz, from NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, challenging the ban on women’s entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah from 2012.The High Court on August 26 had held that the ban imposed by the Trust on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah, contravened Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution and said women should be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum like men.The Trust moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order lifting the ban on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the renowned Muslim shrine in South Mumbai.The apex court, on October 17, had extended the stay granted by Bombay High Court to facilitate an appeal against its decision to lift the ban on entry of women near the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah in Mumbai.With inputs from Mustafa Plumber and PTI.

SC extends stay on Bombay HC order on women entry in Haji Ali

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supreme Court on Friday extended the stay granted by Bombay High Court to facilitate an appeal against its decision to lift the ban on entry of women near the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Haji Ali Dargah, till October 17 when it will hear the matter.However, during the brief hearing, a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar expressed hope that the Haji Ali Dargah Trust, which has challenged the high court judgement, “will take a stand which is progressive”.The court adjourned the matter at the request of senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam who appeared for the Trust.”The order of the High Court granting stay on operation of its judgement to continue till the next date of hearing on October 17,” the bench said.Subramaniam assured the bench that he was on a “progressive mission” and said all holy books and scriptures promoted equality and nothing which is regressive in character should be suggested.The bench also remarked that “if you are not allowing both men and women to go beyond a point, there is no problem.But if you are allowing some to go beyond a point while others are not, it is a problem.”The bench, which recorded that an identical issue has been raised and was pending before the Supreme Court relating to the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, said “the problem is not only among Muslims, but among the Hindus also”.The counsel, appearing for a women’s group which has challenged the practice of the Trust not to allow women near the sanctum sanctorum, submitted that the position was different before 2011 than what it is today.The Trust moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order lifting the ban on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the renowned Muslim shrine in South Bombay.The High Court on August 26 had held that the ban imposed by the Trust on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah, contravened Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution and said women should be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum like men.

Mumbai: Trupti Desai enters Haji Ali dargah, stops short of inner sanctum

Rights activist Trupti Desai on Thursday entered Mumbai’s Haji Ali dargah to offer prayers amid tight security, saying her struggle was for gender equality.”At the dargah, I prayed that women be allowed to enter the inner sanctum, as was the case till 2011,” the Bhumata Ranragini Brigade chief Desai said, after coming out of the dargah.”Police cooperated with us this time. This is a fight for gender equality. We will try to visit the inner sanctum next time,” she said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We saw till where we are allowed and till where men go inside the dargah. In 15 days, trustees should allow women inside the inner sanctum, else we will protest,” she said.
ALSO READ Haji Ali row: Trupti Desai asks Shahrukh, Salman and Aamir Khan to lend support for women’s entryDesai and other women activists were earlier denied entry to the Dargah last month.
ALSO READ I have not left Haji Ali movement, but Sabarimala is equally important: Trupti DesaiAfter campaigning for entry of women in Shani Shingnapur and Trimbakeshwar temples in Maharashtra, Desai had taken her movement for gender equality to the famous dargah in Mumbai.She was stopped short of going into the shrine on April 28 by protestors.

Haji Ali Dargah has every right to ban women: Congress leader

The grand old party Congress, which is already reeling into Augusta Westland chopper controversy, raked up another one on Sunday, when one of its senior leaders hailed the ban on women in the sanctum sanctorum of Mumbai’s famous Haji Ali Dargah. Nizamuddin Rayeen, chief of Mumbai Congress’ minority, also condemned efforts of the activists seeking “an equal right to pray”.Calling the ban a “religious matter” of the community, Rayeen said, “The whole activism around the Haji Ali Dargah is being projected as gender discrimination, which is a wrong narrative. It is a religious matter. Why should others, such as Trupti Desai, be bothered about it?”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supporting the dargah management’s decision, Rayeen also condemned the activists and NGOs for launching a movement seeking equal rights for women in the shrine. “It is under the purview of the dargah management, whom they allow in the premises and till what line. They have every right to do that,” said Rayeen, while speaking to dna.”If the activists really have faith in Haji Ali, they can pray outside the shrine or even sitting at home. Mann changa toh kathoti mein Ganga. They are creating a fuss only to malign the name of such a prestigious religious place,” said Rayeen, targeting Bhumata Brigade and Haji Ali for All forum, which had protested in front of the shrine 10 days ago, demanding that women be allowed in the core area. A case in this regard is pending at the Bombay High Court.When told that women were allowed in Ajmer and Deva Sharif dargahs and many other shrines and mosques in the world, and calling it a religious matter was a flawed argument as suggested by even the Islamic scholars, Rayeen said, “Once allowed inside, these activists would then want to do a kirtan in the dargah. There is no limit to freedom.”He added that women were barred from the core area in many shrines and mosques in the country, and Haji Ali was not an exception. “Islam prohibits consumption of alcohol but many Muslims drink. This doesn’t mean that prohibition should be scrapped.” He added that the petition in the high court had no ground.Rayeen insisted that this was the official stand of the Congress’s Minority Cell. This is for the first time that the Congress has come out openly supporting the dargah management’s decision of 2011, through which women’s entry inside the sanctum was barred.So, why now? “We were silent as Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat and AIMIM and Samajwadi Party had already come out in support of the ban. Now people want to know our stand, hence I am speaking,” justified Rayeen, highlighting the tussle among political parties for the vote bank ahead of Mumbai’s civic elections next year.He also condemned protests by Desai at Hindu temples. “Even temples are free to frame rules based on tradition. Forcibly entering the sanctum sanctorum of Trimbakeshawar and Shani temples has nothing to do with justice for women. It serves only political purpose. If these women and NGOs really want to fight for women, they should focus their energy on drought areas, where women are facing serious problems.”Rayeen also accused chief Minister Devendra Fadnvais of supporting the activists. “He is the man who is indirectly supporting the Bhumata Brigade and other NGOs to fuel controversies and distract people from the real issues. Fadnavis has failed miserably in tackling drought. The Make in India proposals, which he claims as his major achievement, also turned out to be fake. So he needs such activism, so that people remain busy in these frivolous issues and he can hide his failures.”

Haji Ali row: Mumbai Police files case against Trupti Desai for protesting without permission

After her successful campaigns to break bar on entry of women in some Hindu temples, Bhumata Brigade chief Trupti Desai on Thursday took her movement for gender equality to the famous Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai but stopped short of going into the shrine, avoiding a showdown with the protesters who had gathered to block her.Desai, who reached near the entry of the causeway leading to the dargah situated on an islet off Worli coast in South Mumbai with fellow activists, left the spot after a few minutes as the protesters gathered around them to thwart their attempt.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Before heading to the spot, she told media that she was leading a “peaceful agitation” to assert women’s right to go up to the core area (Mazaar) of the dargah. She, however, made it clear that she had no intention to hurt religious sentiments of anyone but was only trying to make sure that women are given equal rights to pray in all places of worship. She said she had also written to Bollywood celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan seeking their support for the gender equality movement.PTIExpecting a face-off between the campaigners and the protesters, including those from AIMIM and the Samajwadi Party, police had barricaded the entire area. Some supporters of the campaign also turned up there pledging support for the agitation.Desai had recently successfully led campaigns to break bar on women at the sanctum sanctorum of Shani Shingnapur and Trimbakeshwar temples in Maharashtra.AIMIM threatens Trupti DesaiEarlier, a local AIMIM leader had threatened that he and his supporters would not allow Desai to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the renowned Dargah and they would smear her face with black ink if she does so. A local Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat Shaikh accused Desai of playing politics.Meanwhile, state Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse of the BJP told PTI that the government will respect the High Court verdict that women should not be discriminated against at places of worship. The Maharashtra government had in February this year favoured the entry of women into the Haji Ali Dargah.The state government had then said before the Bombay High Court that unless the Dargah Board is able to prove that ban is part of their religious practice with reference to Quran, women should be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali.The Dargah Board had said that the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah houses the grave of a male saint and in Islam it is sin for women to touch a male saint, and hence, women are barred from touching the tomb.’Rules should be same for both men and women’, says Trupti DesaiAsked why she is staging protest when the matter is sub-judice, she said “its not a question of being in a hurry. The matter is pending in the court since 2012. If women can be allowed to enter other places of worship, the same should be done in Haji Ali too.”Desai, whose previous campaigns were centred around Hindu temples, said her agitation for right to equality for women at places of worship in not linked to any religion.”It’s not about any religion. I am doing this for gender equality. Rules should the same for both men and women.”Referring to protests at Haji Ali against her campaign, the Bhumata Brigade chief asked, “What is the Home Minister doing? He should ensure my safety and facilitate my entry into the shrine.”In a related development, a civil petition was filed today in a Mumbai Court seeking a ban on the entry of Desai into the inner chamber of the iconic shrine dedicated to a 15th century saint. The petition, filed by activist Hemant Patil, also contended that she cannot stage a protest in the area around the dargah as it falls in a silence zone.Counsel for the petitioner Wajid Khan argued that Desai should be governed by Muslim laws which do not allow women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of a shrine. The Court posted the matter for arguments on June 15.Tardeo Police registers cases against Trupti Desai, and AIMIM leadersMeanwhile, Tardeo Police tonight registered cases against Desai, Samajwadi Party, AIMIM and Awami Vikas League under the Bombay Police Act for violating prohibitory orders and carrying out protests without permission. Police said they also arrested two activists of Awami Vikas League.Members of Samajwadi Party, AIMIM and Awami Vikas League were part of the protesters who had gathered to block Desai’s entry into the shrine. Police said they did not stop the Bhumata Brigade leader from entering the dargah.”Police did not stop anyone. The bandobast was kept because we needed to maintain law and order. If she wanted to go as a normal citizen there would have been no problem. But she wanted to enter the dargah with a group and shouting slogans,” a senior official said.

Haji Ali row: Trupti Desai calls off protest for today, says will continue fight for entry

After reaching late over an hour to protest outside Haji Ali dargah on Thursday, Trupti Desai, could not get down outside the Dargah Road which leads to the shrine. While the police managed to stop the crowd around her car, Desai had to flee the spot and wait for the police to make arrangements for her visit.Alleging that there were people with her outside the car, due to which she had to go ahead. “The police is making arrangements for my visit ahead. I will not be going without visiting the dargah. If people will co-operate with me, issues will resolve easily. The women with me in the car saw lathis and weapons. Fearing people may get violent, I will go in once the cops have done proper arrangements. Any harm to my supporters and I will be the responsibility to the government and police. Though we have not got proper support by police,” Desai said. While Desai said that she will not be entering the mazhar (tomb of the saint) and would abide by the laws today, she said that she will continue to fight for the approval of women to enter there. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Along with her supporters, she did some sloganeering a few metres from the dargah entrance where those opposing her stood guard. “We will fight for this and nobody can stop me from entering the dargah. I am going as a normal citizen,” Desai said.Desai alleged that the protesters were carrying weapons and tried to attack her with knives but she escaped in her car. She added while the police was cooperating right now, they had not been doing so earlier. Desai was still at the dargah in the evening and said she would not leave till she is allowed to enter. While clerics say the entrance of women is banned for security reasons, Desai opined that it was the duty of the dargah management to take action and see that necessary security arrangements were made.The Haji Ali Sab ke Liye Forum ended their protest after waiting for Desai over an hour. “The time for protest is getting over. We are ending our peaceful protest today, but we will have similar demonstrations again,” said Feroze Mithiborewala of the forum. He also said that Desai not arriving on time for the protest was not a setback as she was not the sole face of the protest.On the other hand, AIMIM, Shiv Sena and other local parties were adamant about not letting Desai enter the mazhar at Haji Ali. “We shall not let her enter the dargah. We will be physical if this happens,” an AIMIM member threatened.

Why did Trupti Desai’s much touted march to Haji Ali Dargah fizzle out?

What prevented Bhumata Ranragini Brigade head Trupti Desai from marching right into the sanctum sanctorum of Mumbai’s famous Haji Ali Dargah on Thursday?  Desai’s decision to not enter the innermost sanctum was baffling, as when it comes to breaking age-old traditions of banning women from entering the most sacred part of some of India’s most famous religious shrines, she has of late become a phenomenon.

Earlier this year, when Trupti Desai successfully marched into the Shani Singapur Temple and performed an aarti at the inner sanctum, she debunked a 400-year-old custom. In an earlier story in Firstpost, it was reported that the trust of Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra had finally allowed women to enter the temple. Similarly, she was instrumental in securing the rights of women to enter the Trimbakeshwar Temple (even though days later some women were allegedly manhandled by a group while trying to enter the inner sanctum).

On 20 April, NGOs and activists formed the ‘Haji Ali Sabke Liye’ campaign, lead by Desai, to protest against the ban on entry of women into the sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah, a 15th Century shrine in Mumbai. However, till 2011, women were allowed to enter the inner sanctum, reported CNN-News18.

Trupti Desai. Courtesy IBNLiveTrupti Desai. Courtesy IBNLive

Trupti Desai. Courtesy IBNLive

Feminism naturally has its enemies. And Desai isn’t certainly short of them. Her proposed march to the Dargah’s inner chambers angered an All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader. According to ANI, Haji Rafat Husain, threatened to smear black ink on her. Another from the Shiv Sena threatened to greet her with slippers.

But nothing could deter her. With her mind on a “peaceful march”, Desai set forth to Haji Ali and arrived at 4 p.m., when she suddenly changed her mind. Desai wouldn’t enter the inner shrine as she had initially planned to. What went wrong? Was it because Desai was a Hindu and the place she had decided to enter, belonged to Islam? Or was it because she was intimidated by the group of men who had assembled in front of the Dargah to stop Desai from entering? Was the problem patriarchal or communal? Perhaps, Trupti Desai can only best answer these questions.

The hegemony of patriarchy has long dictated what women should and should not do, eat, think, behave, dress… It sometimes takes a peaceful protest to shake things up. But what is the point of feminism if it’s foot soldiers and leaders change their mind halfway and turn back? Where do we go from there?

Haji Ali row: Will not let Trupti Desai enter, say protestors

After spearheading a successful campaign for women’s right to worship in temples, Bhumata Brigade founder Trupti Desai is expected to reach the Haji Ali Dargah with her ‘Haji Ali Dargah Sab Ke Liye Forum’ soon.The trust members along with the police are ready to control any situation that may arise due to the protest. On the other hand, there are also protesters ready to stop Trupti Desai from entering the ‘mazhar’, if not peacefully, then with force. “I have no problem even if I am arrested for stopping Trupti Desai from breaking rules and hurting sentiments of another religion. We will be there when she comes at the mosque, ready with paint to blacken her face if she forcefully tries to enter and break the rules of this 1400-year-old religion,” said Haji Rafat Husain, MIM chief. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Along with him is the Samajwadi Party’s Ruksana Siddiqui, ready with a gang of women to stop Trupti from entering the mazhar. “We will stop her with physical force if needed,” she said. The women stressed on the point that Desai needs to understand the religion, study their books and understand the reasons. “Women are not forced to stay out. We do it out of our understanding of our religion. We will not let her go inside,” she added.
ALSO READ Haji Ali row: Trupti Desai asks Shahrukh, Salman and Aamir Khan to lend support for women’s entryAlthough Desai told Iamin over the phone that her protest would be peaceful and that she would not enter the mazhar, many protestors are ready to retaliate against her even before she reaches Mumbai. “I will not go inside the mazhar. We are only protesting peacefully,” she said.Police and the trust handling the crowd outside refused to comment on the issue.

Haji Ali row: Trupti Desai asks Shahrukh, Salman and Aamir Khan to lend support for women’s entry

Set to enter Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah to break the gender barrier disallowing women’s entry, Bhumata Brigade activist Trupti Desai on Thursday asked Bollywood actors Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan to lend support to their cause, which is aimed at eradicating differential treatment meted out to women at religious places.”I think Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan should state their stand on what we are trying to achieve here, on our cause… That way I believe that their fan following will join us and support us in our fight for equality,” she told ANI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Saturday, Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat said he would not allow her to touch the mazar-e-sharif at the Hazi Ali Dargah. Arafat, who joined the Shiv Sena after leaving the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in 2014, said that the attempt by Desai to enter the Haji Ali Dargah is a conspiracy meant to disturb Mumbai’s peaceful environment.On April 20, ‘Haji Ali for All’ Forum was launched by Desai along with several activists, NGOs and social groups to fight for entry of women to the shrine.The Maharashtra Government had in February supported the entry of women to the Haji Ali Dargah. The government had told the Bombay High Court that the entry of women cannot be prohibited.

Shiv Sena activist threatens to greet Trupti Desai with ‘slippers’ if she marches to Haji Ali

Mumbai: A local Shiv Sena leader on Saturday stoked controversy by saying that Bhumata Brigade chief Trupti Desai would be hit with “slippers” if she tried to enter the Haji Ali Dargah but the gender equality campaigner said that she will go ahead with the plan on 28 April.

Shiv Sena leadership, however, distanced themselves from the comment of Arafat Shaik saying “be it a man or a woman, all have equal rights to enter any religious place.”

Activist Trupti Desai. IBNLIVEActivist Trupti Desai. IBNLIVE

Activist Trupti Desai. IBNLIVE

“If she (Desai) speaks about entering the Haji Ali Dargah, she will be welcomed with a ‘prasad’ of chappals. She cannot be allowed to enter the mazar at any cost,” Shaik told reporters in Mumbai.

“Shaik’s comments of hitting Tupti Desai with chappals were made in his personal capacity. This is not the official stand of the party. Our stand is that whether it is a temple or a dargah men and women have equal rights to pray in them,” Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said.

“Also, once the High Court has given a decision it has to be implemented by the government and the police. Thus, it will be wrong to obstruct a woman’s entry into any religious institution,” she said.

Taking Shaikh’s threat lightly, Desai said no threats will work against her plan and she will stick to it.

“No one can issue threats in a democracy. He has insulted women by threatening us against entering the dargah. We will go ahead with our plan on 28 April and not let their threats work with us,” she said.

Shaikh’s comments evoked a sharp response from the Opposition parties, which said that Sena, through its Muslim leaders is putting forth its “real agenda.”

“This game of the Sena is well known. First make one of its leaders a scapegoat and put forth its stand through them and then conveniently distance itself. People have understood their real agenda,” Congress spokesperson Al-Nasser Zakaria said.

NCP leader Nawab Malik said Shaik is no community leader and “ridiculous” statements are being made by him to grab media attention.

“He is not the leader of Muslims. He is making these ridiculous comments only to garner media attention. People know he belongs to a party infamous for making anti Muslim comments,” he said.

Haji Ali Dargah row: Trupti Desai defiant despite Sena leader’s threat to welcome her with slippers

Bhumata Brigade chief Trupti Desai on Saturday insisted that the threats of Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat will not work and her group would be going to Haji Ali Dargah on April 28.”This kind of threat is wrong. Everyone has the right to protest in a democracy. He has insulted women,” Desai told ANI.”Our group would be going to Haji Ali Dargah on April 28. The threats from the Shiv Sena won’t work,” she added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Demanding the Shiv Sena to clear its stand, the Bhumata Brigade chief said that if the organization differs in views with Haji Arafat then they should sack him.Haji Arafat has earlier said he would not allow Trupti Desai to touch the mazar-e-sharif of Haji Ali Dargah.”Islam does not allow women to touch the mazar-e-sharif in a dargah. We strongly condemn what Trupti Desai is saying. We won’t allow her to enter the inner sanctum of the Hazi Ali Dargah. I will be the voice of my religion and will not allow her to touch the mazar-e-sharif, Haji Arafat told ANI.On April 20, ‘Haji Ali For All’ Forum was launched by Desai along with several activists, NGOs and social groups to fight for entry of women to the shrine.The Maharashtra Government had in February supported the entry of women to the Haji Ali Dargah.The government had told the Bombay High Court that the entry of women cannot be prohibited.The court had asked the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP Government to give its opinion on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the decision of the Haji Ali Trust to ban the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah.A trustee of the Dargah, Rizwan Merchant, had earlier backed the decision not to allow women to enter inside the inner sanctum, saying their entry is prohibited for their own safety.

Haji Ali row: Trupti Desai would be welcomed with slippers if she enters dargah, says Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat

As women rights activist Trupti Desai is all set to lead the movement to Haji Ali Dargah next week, a Muslim leader of the Shiv Sena has said that Bhoomata Ranragini Brigade leader would be hit by chappals if she attempts to enter the dargah.After the successful right-to-pray campaign centred around the Shani Temple in Ahmednagar district, and Trimbakeshwar Temple in Nashik district, a similar public-backed movement has been launched to seek entry of women into the core area of the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over 20 outfits, NGOs and human right activists in last week announced formation of ‘Haji Ali Sabke Liye’ to peacefully campaign against the ban on entry of women into the interiors of the 15th century Sufi shrine, located on a small islet in the Arabian Sea and visited by hundreds of people everyday.“Trupti Desai says will enter and touch Mazaar at Haji Ali, we strongly condemn this. If she makes an attempt then she would be welcomed with ‘prasad’ of chappals,” reported ABP quoting Haji Arafat Shaikh, a Muslim leader of the Shiv Sena. Arafat, who joined the Shiv Sena after leaving the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in 2014, said that the attempt by Desai to enter the Haji Ali Dargah is a conspiracy meant to disturb Mumbai’s peaceful environment.”I will become the voice of my religion and won’t let her touch the mazaar. Many Muslim women are also opposing her,” Shaikh added.The Bombay High Court is hearing a petition challenging the Haji Ali Trust’s decision to ban the entry of women into the sanctum of the shrine. The Maharashtra Government had in February supported the entry of women to the Haji Ali Dargah. The government had told the Bombay High Court that the entry of women cannot be prohibited.(With PTI/ANI inputs)

‘Haji Ali sabke liye’: NGOs, activists come together to seek women’s entry at dargah

Mumbai: After the successful right-to-pray campaign centred around the Shani Temple in Ahmednagar district, a similar public-backed movement has been launched to seek entry of women into the core area of the Haji Ali Dargah in the city.

Over 20 outfits, NGOs and human right activists on Wednesday announced formation of ‘Haji Ali Sabke Liye’ to peacefully campaign against the ban on entry of women into the interiors of the 15th century Sufi shrine, located on a small islet in the Arabian Sea and visited by hundreds of people everyday.

The forum was launched at a press conference which was briefly disrupted by a group of people who said the move was against the Sharia.

Addressing the meet, its convener Javed Anand said, “The forum is of the firm view that women’s entry in the Dargah is not a religious issue, but something to do with customs and traditions. This is why the forum is appealing to the trustees of the Haji Ali Dargah to immediately withdraw the restriction imposed on entry of women.”

Haji Ali dargah. File photo. ReutersHaji Ali dargah. File photo. Reuters

Haji Ali dargah. File photo. Reuters

The Bombay High Court is hearing a petition challenging the Haji Ali Trust’s decision to ban the entry of women into the sanctum of the shrine.

“We are sincerely requesting the trustees to withdraw the ban before the HC gives its final order,” said Anand.

Anand said he has full faith in the judiciary but is appealing to the management of the dargah to uphold the right to equality of women at religious places.

Representatives of the forum will try to meet the trustees to convey their sentiments on the issue. The new body would soon hold a peaceful dharna outside the shrine, which houses the tomb of a Sufi saint and also a mosque, he said.

Trupti Desai of Bhumata Brigade, who successfully spearheaded the agitation seeking entry of women in Shani Shinganapur’s sanctum, said fighting for women’s right was part of her mission and she would proactively take part in this movement too.

Mariam Dhawale, state president, All India Democratic Association, said after the Haji Ali Dargah row is solved, the forum would launch a similar movement to demand entry into other religious places where such a ban is in place.

Ajmer Dargah committee invites PM Narendra Modi, urges Urs be declared

Extending an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Ajmer Dargah, the Sufi shrine’s committee has requested him to declare Urs of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti as a national holiday.President of the Dargah committee Asrar Ahmed Khan wrote a letter to the Prime Minister on Monday inviting him to the Dargah during the Urs commencing from April 9.Khan also requested Modi to declare the day of Urs celebration as national holiday. “The Government of India had issued a postal stamp at the time of Urs in the year 1989 and 2012 on the eve of annual Urs of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz. “Presidents, Prime Ministers and other dignitaries visited the Durgah Khwaja Sahab, Ajmer and paid homage to Khwaja Gharib Nawaz,” Khan said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In view of the above facts, we request you to kindly declare this day of Urs celebration as a national holiday, Khan said in the letter.

Thane mass murder: Police probes ‘split personality’ angle

Investigators probing the Thane massacre are burning midnight oil to explore the possibility of killer Hasnain Warekar suffering from a “split personality” disorder that might have drove him to slaughter 14 members of his family.A senior police officer, who is a member of the probe team, on Thursday said that they are trying to put together all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to figure out the behavioural pattern of the 35-year-old accused with the help of several mental health experts and criminologists to arrive at a conclusion as to what led him to execute the mass murders and whether he was a victim of a spilt or multiple personality.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also, during searches at his house, certain medicines pointing to psychological symptoms/illness were recovered, which the officer said is likely to give some leads into Hasnain’s state of mind before the macabre killings. Now, police are trying to locate the pharmacist from where the medicines were procured and the doctor who prescribed them, he said.According to police, even though locals remember Hasnain as a good-natured and religious man, his dark side came to light on Sunday when he mercilessly butchered 14 his family members and then ended his life after a weekend feast.In the last couple of days, the police team has been recording statements of Hasnain’s relatives and friends besides the caretaker of the Pardesi Baba Darghah (also known as Durgha Hazrat Gaji Salauddin Shah Baba) which he used to visit often.Police are also probing into the black magic angle to ascertain whether he was influenced by any such practise or followed any self-styled godman. When contacted in this regard, the caretaker, however refused to make any comments.Police had also learnt from neighbours that Hasnain used to slaughter goats for ‘kurbani’ (sacrifice) ritual and therefore knew how to use a butcher’s knife that was used in the crime. A police official from Kasarwadavali station said they have collected the blood and nail samples of the lone survivor of the incident, Subiya Barmar.Among those killed in the shocking incident were Hasnain’s parents, wife, sisters and children. The accused slit their throats with a knife after offering them drinks laced with sedatives at the family house in Kasarvadawali area on Thane outskirts, and then committed suicide by hanging himself.In a chilling testimony, a traumatised Subiya (22) on Wednesday told a team of investigators at a hospital here that she saw her brother holding a blood-stained butcher’s knife in his hand and menacingly approaching her shouting that he has killed everyone in the family and it was her turn now.Meanwhile, an uneasy calm prevailed at the ‘Warekar Manzil’ (Hasnain’s house) in Wadavali. The residence that was a mute witness to the abominable act, has been sealed by police and it would be handed over to relatives only after the probe is over and an abatement summary report filed before the court, the official from Kasarwadavalli police station said. Even locals are yet to recover from the shock.Rajesh Gavli, one of the villagers who knew the family very well told visiting newsmen that Warekars displayed a very good conduct and never got involved in any issues.”How this happened is astounding,” he said.A local Congress leader and the first elected Municipal Corporator of the Thane Municipal Corporation Janardhan Atmaram Patil was also acquainted with the Warekars.”I have been here for years together. The family was a respectable one. Hasnain rushed to help anyone who was in need. Even when I was the village sarpanch and corporator I knew them very well and was in close contact with them. The family had no issues. They did not not have any property disputes. What drove them to this is unimaginable”, he said.At about ten minutes distance is the renowned Pardesi Baba Dargah. A board put up at the Dargah entrance contains the name of the alleged accused’s father (Anwar Warekar) as one of the trustees. It states that any one wanting to donate for the Dargah in kind or cash may contact the trustees.According to police, Hasnain, a commerce graduate, used to prepare Income Tax-related documents with a CA firm in Navi Mumbai and did not have any permanent job.

Shani temple row: Bombay HC refuses to hear petition against not allowing women into temple’s sanctum sanctorum

The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to hear a petition seeking action against the Shani temple trust at Shani Shinganapur in Ahmednagar district for not allowing women into the sanctum sanctorum.The division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade asked petitioner Ramesh Joshi to approach the Aurangabad bench of the high court where a petition on the same issue has been filed.Joshi’s petition says that by stopping women from entering the sanctum of the Shani shrine, the temple trust was violating the constitutional right to equality. It also criticises the trust’s action of carrying out a ‘purification’ of the idol after a woman devotee entered the the sanctum recently.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The traditional ban on entry of women at the sanctum sanctorum of the ancient temple led to a vociferous agitation by women’s organisations last month.The high court here is at present also hearing a petition challenging ban on women’s entry at Haji Ali dargah in the city. The court has reserved its order on the petition.
ALSO READ Haji Ali dargah row: Maharashtra govt says fundamental rights prevail over traditionsAdvocate General Srihari Aney has argued that unless the Dargah Board proves that the ban is a part of religious practice, women should be allowed to enter the shrine.

Maharashtra govt supports women’s entry in Haji Ali Dargah

Amid the raging debate over ban on females’ entry into certain religious places across the country, the Maharashtra Government on Tuesday supported the entry of women in Haji Ali Dargah.The government told the Bombay High Court that the entry of women cannot be prohibited into the shrine. The court had earlier this month asked the Devandra Fadnavis-led government to give its opinion on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the decision of Haji Ali Trust to ban the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With women trying to enter the sacred platform of the Shani Shingnapur Temple, Muslim women groups have also started protesting against restriction on their entry into the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. Trustee of the Dargah, Rizwan Merchant had earlier backed the decision to not allow women to enter inside the inner sanctum, saying that entry is prohibited in view of their safety.

Bombay HC seeks govt’s view on women’s entry in Haji Ali by February 9

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked Maharashtra government to give its opinion on a public interest litigation challenging the decision of Haji Ali Trust to ban the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the historic Durgah in Mumbai.As the issue is sensitive, a bench headed by Justice V M Kanade asked Advocate General Srihari Aney to submit arguments on behalf of the state on February 9 stating whether women should be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court is seized of a matter about entry of women in Sabarimala temple of Kerala. This is also for the first time that the state has been asked to give its views on women’s entry into a shrine.On Tuesday, when the PIL came up for hearing, the bench was told that the Advocate General was on his legs before another bench in some other matter. Hence, the PIL on Haji Ali Durgah was posted for arguments on February 9 when the Advocate General has been asked to argue on behalf of the State.The HC had indicated last month that it would wait for the Supreme Court’s ruling on entry of women in Sabarimala temple in Kerala before deciding on the plea in the case of Haji Ali Durgah.The judges had said both the matters were similar involving the entry of women in the religious shrines and hence they would like to see what view would the Supreme Court take on the issue before they give a ruling on the interim relief sought by the petitioner in the Bombay High Court.The PIL in Bombay High Court has challenged the decision of Haji Ali Trust to ban the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the Durgah. The petition had sought interim relief by way of allowing women into the sanctum sanctorum at the Durgah until the matter is finally decided by the court.In the Supreme Court, a petition has sought entry for all women and girls in the Sabarimala temple which, as a practice, does not allow girls after attaining puberty to enter the premises. The temple, however, allows only those women to enter who have reached the menopause stage.The apex court had on January 11 questioned the age-old tradition of banning entry of women of menstrual age group in the Kerala temple, saying this cannot be done under the Constitution. In the Bombay High Court, a petition raised a similar issue — that of ban imposed on entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali Durgah. It prohibits women irrespective of their age. The trustees of Haji Ali Dargah had told the HC earlier that entry of women in close proximity to the grave of a male Muslim saint is considered a grievous sin in Islam. The HC had then asked the trustees to reconsider their decision, following which the Trust met and reconsidered their stand while taking the same view of banning entry of women in the Durgah.The Haji Ali Trust argued that the bar on entry is meant to protect women from “uncomfortable situations” and is restricted only to the sanctum sanctorum. The petitioners, however, claimed that gender justice is inherent in the Quran and the norm at the Dargah contravenes the Hadiths which say that women are not prohibited from visiting tombs.The restriction emanates from “a very conservative and extremist Salafi ideology” and in future “there may be an order banning the entry of women in the Durgah complex and banning the non-Muslims wholly,” the petition argued.Raju Moray, the petitioners’ lawyer, contended that at other Durgahs or shrines women are not banned. Women can enter the sanctum sanctorum at the historic Makhdoom Shah Durgah in suburban Mahim, he noted.

Men can visit graveyards, why not us? ask Muslim women

New Delhi: Even as the debate over access to women in the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah rages, several members of the Muslim community have started questioning the practice of disallowing women in graves and graveyards.

Women are barred from entry into graveyards. ReutersWomen are barred from entry into graveyards. Reuters

Women are barred from entry into graveyards. Reuters

“No religious scripture bars women from visiting graves. Prophet Muhammad himself regularly visited the graveyard and recommended people to do it without any gender discrimination. There is no caste or gender bias in Islam and both men and women have the right to participate in all walks of life equally,” said Zeenat Shaukat Ali, professor of Islamic Studies at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. She is also the founder-director general of The World Institute of Islamic Studies for Dialogue, Organisation of Mediation and Gender Justice.

The graves, she said quoting Prophet Muhammad, should be frequented by men and women for two reasons: one, it reminds them of death and two, they can pray for the people buried there.

Citing instances, she said, “Prophet Muhammad’s wife Hazrat Ayesha Siddiqua used to visit the grave of her brother Abd ar-Rahman. Also, Hazrat Fatima Zehra, the Prophet’s daughter, used to visit the grave of her uncle Hazrat Hamza regularly.

There is no authentic version Islam, according to her, that proves women are not allowed to visit graveyards. “Yes, Prophet Muhammad had earlier forbidden women from visiting graves because attachment to the dead was widespread those days. But later he encouraged everyone to visit the graves and pray for those lying there,” she said.

To prove her points, she quoted a hadith from Hazrat Ayesha who once asked the Prophet what she should say while visiting graves and he replied, ‘Greetings to you, the people of the abodes among the men and women believers! May Allàh grant mercy to those of you and us who went ahead and those who tarried back! Truly we shall – if Allah wills – join up with you.’

Noted columnist Sadia Dehlvi, who has authored of Sufism: The Heart of Islam and The Sufi Courtyard: Dargahs of Delhi, believes that all dargahs are generally inclusive.

“You see men, women and children in the courtyards. However, in some dargahs women are not allowed inside the inner chamber which contains the actual grave. The dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer, Rajhastan, is the most famous and most important dargah in Asia. Men and women of all faiths are allowed entry in the inner chamber. However, some dargahs like that of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi do not allow women inside the room that contains the burial chamber. Haji Ali Dargah had previously allowed women to go right inside and should allow it once again. What is interesting is that at some dargahs of women sufis, men are not allowed inside,” she said.

On the issue of taking the Haji Ali management to court, Dehlvi says, “This should have been best resolved through dialogue and not through confrontation. Muslims in charge of sacred spaces should do a rethink and be more welcoming of women. Nothing is more sacred to Muslims than the Kaaba in Mecca, which men and women have circled together for centuries. At Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Medina, there are vast spaces for women to pray.”

But Islamic feminist writer Sheeba Aslam Fehmi has a completely different view on the topic. According to her, dargahs are the places where common man’s sufferings are “exploited”.

“They are the centre of corruption, filth, dirt and all sorts of pervert practices. Instead of demanding the rights to enter, women should stop visiting such shrines as it would not empower them in anyway. Every fight for equality is not emancipation,” she said.

Zakia Soman, co-petitioner of the PIL filed in the Bombay High Court against the restriction at Haji Ali Dargah, blamed the patriarchal mindset of the shrine committee. “Islam allows women to enter and pray inside the dargah (sufi shrine) but its trustees discourage women and prevent them to enter the inner sanctorum. It is simply caste discrimination,” she alleged. Interestingly, she said, some of the trustees of the Haji Ali Dargah are also the trustees of the Mahim Dargah, where women are allowed.

Asked why only dargahs, women are not allowed to visit graveyards, she said, “We do not want any place in the world where women’s entry is barred. Our religion is universal. It is not restricted to a particular gender. It is for everyone. Such restrictions are being imposed on us by some self-proclaimed clerics whom we refuse to accept.”

The Bombay High Court, which is hearing Soman’s petition, said it would wait for Supreme Court’s ruling on entry of women in Sabarimala temple of Kerala before deciding on the plea related to the dargah.

A bench of justices VM Kanade and Reveti Mohite-Dere had said both matters involved entry of women in the religious shrines, and hence they would like to see what view the apex court would take on the issue before deciding on the PIL pending before them.

The next HC hearing will take place on 3 February.

Haji Ali Dargah trust says women not allowed inside for their ‘own safety’

With Muslim women groups protesting in favour of their demand, seeking entry into the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai, trustee of the Dargah, Rizwan Merchant on Thursday said that their entry is prohibited in view of their safety which is ‘fair and just’. ‘A fair and just action has been taken by the trust by not allowing gents and women to mingle together at the inner sanctum of the Dargah for their safety,’ Merchant told ANI.’The issue is unnecessarily blown out of proportion. Our sisters are not prohibited or stopped from visiting the Dargah,’ he added. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’There is a separate corridor and between the corridor and the Dargah, there is a line of those offertory boxes where devotees come and offer what is required to be offered. Behind that particular portion, an area of nearly 150-200 square-feet has been demarcated only for our sisters,’ he further said. A Muslim women’s rights group is locked in a bitter legal battle with trustees of the Haji Ali Dargah, which barred women’s entry into mosque’s mausoleum in 2011.While defending its ban on women, the trust had reportedly said that it was a ‘grievous sin’ as per Islam for women to be in close proximity of the grave of a male Muslim saint. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) has petitioned the Bombay High Court seeking a ruling that the ban is unconstitutional.Muslim women stage protest Muslim women staged a protest demanding entry into a restricted area of the Haji Ali dargah, a stir that came amid a campaign by a group seeking right for female devotees to offer prayers at inner sanctum of Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra. Several activists belonging to Muslim women groups held placards demanding entry for females into the sanctum sanctorum of the historic dargah, which receives hundreds of devotees everyday. A participant said it was “male patriarchy”, and not religion, which was imposing restrictions on women. “This is against tenets of Islam. The Constitution has given you equal rights, Islam supports the Constitution,” she added.A Muslim women’s rights group is locked in a legal battle with trustees of the Haji Ali dargah, which has barred women’s entry into mosque’s mausoleum.The Bombay High Court is hearing a petition challenging the Haji Ali Trust’s decision to ban the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah (grave of a male Muslim saint).On January 18, the HC said it would wait for Supreme Courts ruling on entry of women in Sabarimala temple of Kerala before deciding on the plea related to the dargah.A bench of Justices V M Kanade and Reveti Mohite-Dere had said both matters involved entry of women in the religious shrines, and hence they would like to see what view the apex court would take on the issue before deciding on the PIL pending before them. The next HC hearing will take place on February 3.The protest in Mumbai broke out two days after members of a group, Bhumata Brigade, were prevented by police from entering into Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district to break a 400-year-old tradition banning women from entering its sacred sanctum. After the high-voltage march to the temple by the Bhumata Brigade volunteers, which was foiled mid-way, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis called for a dialogue between temple authorities and activists to find a way out of the row. The popular shrine is dedicated to Lord Shani, who personifies the planet Saturn in Hindu belief. Women devotees are not permitted on the ‘chauthara’ (sacred platform) of the temple as per the centuries-led tradition followed at the shrine. With inputs from agencies

Pathankot terror attack: NIA conducts raids in places associated with Salwinder Singh

A team of the National Investigative Agency (NIA) on Thursday morning reached senior Punjab Police officer Salwinder Singh’s residence as a part of the probe into his role in the Pathankot terror attack. The NIA conducted raids in four locations in Gurdaspur, two locations in Amritsar, locations associated with Salwinder Singh and two others are being interrogated. Singh went through several rounds of questioning by the NIA in connection with the terror strike at Pathankot Airbase as suspicion arose after several contradictions in his statements during his interrogation. The investigators also questioned Salwinder Singh’s cook and the caretaker of ‘Panj Peer Dargah’, which Singh had claimed to have visited before he was kidnapped by terrorists involved in the attack on Pathankot Airbase.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The shrine is located a few kilometres from Bamiyal, the village from where the terrorists were suspected to have infiltrated into India before mounting the attack. Officials of the probe agency also said that there were similarities in the recent attack on the Pathankot Air Force station and a police station and some other targets in Dinanagar, both in Punjab. Six terrorists had attacked the Pathankot base on January 2. They were killed in a counter-operation by Indian forces that lasted for about three days and also claimed the lives of seven security personnel.

Pathankot attack: Binoculars used by terrorists have US Army markings, reveals NIA

The binoculars used by the six Pathankot militants were made in USA and have US Army markings, says a report in a news daily. This suggests that either the Jaish-e-Mohammad stole them from one of the bases of US Army in Afghanistan or it was taken from Pakistan army, which also procures military equipment from the US, it adds.Following the revelation of this information, the NIA is set to approach the US over the issue, using the number on the binoculars, to ascertain details like when and where it was stolen.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NIA has also got a lot of material including clothing, shoes and other material which links the militants to Pakistan.After five days of intensive grilling of Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh in the Pathankot terror attack, the NIA has decided to conduct a lie detection test on the officer as well due to contradictions in his statements and outright lies in others. The lie detection test will be conducted mostly on Monday after taking the consent of the court and Salwinder Singh.SP Salwinder Singh was on Friday confronted with his cook Madan Gopal and the caretaker of the Dargah he visited that night – Somraj.Singh’s car was stolen by terrorists before they entered the Pathankot IAF base on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1.The sources said bringing them face-to-face was necessary because of “conflicting statements”. While Singh had told the Punjab police he frequently visited the shrine, Somraj claimed he had seen him for the first time hours before terrorists launched the brazen attack on the Pathankot facility.Singh claimed he was kidnapped by the terrorists after his visit to the shrine and later let off as they did not know his identity.Six terrorists were killed in a counter-operation by Indian security personnel that lasted for three days and also claimed the lives of 7 security personnel.CFSL has now been asked to recover the serial number of AK-47 rifles and revolvers recovered by the NIA after an 80-hour long terror strike at the Pathankot IAF base, so that the same could be shared with the company to ascertain the country from where it was shipped.The NIA was also studying details of the terror strike at Dinanagar in Gurdaspur district on July 27 last year. This attack is believed to be similar to the one in Pathankot.Three heavily-armed militants in army fatigues, believed to have infiltrated from Pakistan, had on July 27 sprayed bullets at a moving bus and stormed a police station in Dinanagar, killing 8 people, including a superintendent of police before being gunned down. The case is being probed by the Punjab police.

Pathankot terror attack: Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh to take lie detector test next week – MHA

Punjab Police officer Salwinder Singh to undergo lie detector test next week in connection with Pathankot terror probe, the Ministry of Home Affairs said.The SP-rank officer of Punjab Police Salwinder Singh was quizzed for the fourth day on Thursday by NIA whose interrogators also questioned his cook and the caretaker of ‘Panj Peer Dargah’, which the official had claimed to have visited before he was kidnapped by terrorists involved in Pathankot attack.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Officials of the terror probe agency have also found similarities in the recent attack on the Pathankot Air Force station and a police station and some other targets in Dinanagar, both in Punjab, a Home Ministry spokesperson said.Three heavily-armed militants in army fatigues, believed to have infiltrated from Pakistan, had on July 27 last year sprayed a moving bus with bullets and stormed a police station in Dinanagar, killing eight people, including a Superintendent of Police before being killed in a counteroffensive. The case is being probed by the Punjab Police.State’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had recently refused to hand over the case to NIA, which is probing the Pathankot attack. NIA officials questioned Singh, who is allegedly frequently changing his statements, for the fourth straight day today.Singh’s cook Madan Gopal, who was also abducted with him and a jeweller friend of the officer, and Somraj, caretaker of Panj Peer Dargah in Punjab, were also questioned, the spokesperson said, adding they all may be confronted with each other to ascertain the veracity of their statements.The shrine is located a few kilometres from Bamiyal, the village from where the terrorists were suspected to have infiltrated into India before mounting the attack.Six terrorists had attacked the Pathankot base on the intervening night of January 1 and 2. They were killed in a counter-operation by Indian forces that lasted for about three days and also claimed the lives of seven security personnel. With agency inputs

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