Trupti Desai offers prayer at Haji Ali Dargah but keeps away from the inner sanctum

After the Bombay High Court's landmark ruling, women's rights activist and Bhumata Ranragini Brigade chief Trupti Desai on Sunday led a group of women and visited the Haji Ali Dargah.  

Desai's effort have won women entry in two of Maharashtra's oldest Hindu temples, Trayambakeshwara and Shani Shignapur. However, she kept away from the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine, the main bone of contention between activists and the Dargah trust, according to India Today.

After visiting the Dargah, an elated Desai told the press that she was happy that no one tried to stop them from entering the shrine.

Desai had on Friday announced that she will visit the Haji Ali Dargah following the Bombay High court's judgment that lifts the ban on women from entering the inner sanctum of the shrine. The Haji Ali trust had imposed a ban on women entering the inner precincts of the shrine in 2012, citing it as a sin in Islam. But setting aside the ban, the High Court had observed that any such restrictions on women will need constitutional scrutiny. The judgment had said that any such restrictions contravenes fundamental rights of women.

 Trupti Desai offers prayer at Haji Ali Dargah but keeps away from the inner sanctum

Trupti Desai. PTI

The court has, however, ordered a stay on its judgement for a period of six weeks, as the Dargah trust sought to approach the Supreme Court on the issue.

The legal battle to enter the Muslim shrine at the heart of Mumbai was first started by the NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan. The argument made by the petitioners had raised the point that the ban on entry of women into the inner sanctum was a recent development and women devotees till about 2011-2012 were allowed to enter the inner sanctum and offer prayers.

The Dargah Trust had defended its stand, saying that it is referred in Quran that allowing women close proximity to the shrine of a male saint is a grievous sin.

To justify the ban further, they had presented the court with other arguments: women wearing blouses with wide necks bend on the mazaar, thus showing their breasts. The trust members further, under the guise of ensuring safety of women from sexual harassment, cited complaints they had received from women, of belongings being stolen and of eve-teasing, and hence rationalised the ban.

Desai had led a high-profile campaign in April this year to break the bar on women at the core area of the Dargah, but was stopped short of entering the shrine at the last minute amid resistance by activists of outfits opposed to the move. However, in May, she offered prayers at the Dargah but skipped venturing into the inner chamber of the shrine where women were not allowed.

Men have unhindered access to the actual burial place of the saint, and are also allowed to touch the tomb. The fight to allow women into the shrine, built on an islet, 500 metres from the coast, intensified following a petition in the Supreme Court demanding entry for women to the famous Sabarimala temple in Kerala, where the fight is still on. Then too, Trupti Desai was at the forefront of the high-profile campaign against the restriction on women from entering religious places.

In a statement to CNN-News 18, she has said that she will approach the Sabarimala trust next, and request trustees to respect the women's right to pray.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Aug 28, 2016 17:01:38 IST