Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil on Thursday sought to play down the controversy over the demand of jewellers in Pune to refuse business to burqa-clad customers. He said he had not come across any such complaint or representation from the jewellers’ association. “So far, I have not come across this controversy," he said, refusing to talk further on the issue.
On Wednesday, the Maharashtra Jewellery Association in Pune had said it had sought the permission of the state government to refuse customers in burqas, following a spate of heists by burqa-clad robbers.
Some jewellers in Mumbai reacted to the association’s stand with caution. Ravi Aganani of Notandas Jewellers in Bandra said, “Permitting women in veil is not a problem, but one cannot make out whether it is a male or female unless she shows her face.”
Others were more blunt and said security should be priority. Suresh Jain, the owner of DN Jewellers in Kalbadevi, said: “Women in burqa should either show their face or stay at home and ask someone else to shop for them.’’
Some felt that such demands just made poor business sense, as shops in Muslim-dominated areas would lose customers.
Maulana Sayed Hasnain Rizvi, president, Zainabai Islamic Centre, said, “Women in sari or burqa committing crimes should not be mixed with other women." He added that it is not compulsory for women to completely cover their faces and suggested that shops appoint sales girls. NCP legislator Fauziya Khan agreed: “Security is important but if a religion demands a veil, then a compromise can be worked out.”