The Maharashtra Jewellers' Association has demanded that women wearing the burqa and other face-concealing veils be barred from entering jewellery shops in Pune after a spate of thefts involving ‘burqa-clad customers’.
"Whoever enters the shop with his or her face covered will have to pose before the close circuit cameras in the shop. If someone declines to do that, then we will not sell to that customer," said Fatehchand Ranka, the head of the Maharashtra Jewellers' Association.
Over a dozen thefts have occurred in jewellery shops in Pune in the past two months. Surveillance cameras spotted at least three cases of women wearing burqas stealing gold ornaments.
Pune's jewelers denied that they were targeting any religion. They said they have written to the local authorities seeking for permission to stop serving customers who refuse to show their faces before surveillance cameras from January 1.
The move has angered a section of the Muslim community, which says the attempt to profile customers on the basis of their attire is an attack on their religion.
"The move will prove bad for the health of their business. Secondly, I think these jewellers have fallen prey to the ongoing world conspiracy against Muslims. They do not know what damage it could do to their business," said Anjum Chisti, a Muslim cleric.
The Association is firm on its stand and has also decided to face any legal challenge that may come up.