'Improper…': Jama Masjid bans unaccompanied women, DCW issues notice
Reports indicate there are already signs outside the masjid informing visitors that unaccompanied women are not allowed.
An order by Delhi's Jama Masjid banning the entry of unaccompanied women or girls, whether alone or in groups, has triggered outrage. The masjid administration on Thursday put up a poster at its gates that declared it 'improper... when women come alone...' The notice has been condemned and slammed as 'regressive' and 'unacceptable. As the controversy escalated, the masjid later said its order did not apply to girls (or women) offering prayers.
Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam, told PTI the ban is to prevent 'improper acts'. "Jama Masjid is a place of worship. People are welcome for that... but girls coming alone and waiting for dates... this is not what this place is for," he said.
"Any such place, be it a mosque, temple or gurudwara is a place of worship (ibadat ki jagah hai). There is no restriction on anyone for that purpose."
"Just today, a group of 20-25 girls visited and they were allowed to enter."
According to PTI, the notice outside the gates of the 17th century Mughal-era monument that attracts thousands daily - reads: "Jama Masjid mein ladki ya ladkiyon ka akele daakhla mana hai (Entry of girl, or girls is not permitted...)"
However - and also according to PTI - sources in the administration said not all those who engaged in 'inappropriate behaviour' are women.
The masjid's notification makes no reference, at this time, to men being banned.
In the past, visitors have sought to film music videos. An older notice reads: "Music video shoot is strictly prohibited inside the mosque."
'Shameful' and 'unconstitutional'
Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal is among those who have slammed the masjid's order, calling it 'shameful' and 'unconstitutional'.
"What do they feel? This is not India... this Iraq (and) nobody will raise a voice against discrimination meted out to women openly... nobody is above the Constitution. For such a Talibanesque act, we have issued a notice to them.
"We will ensure that this ban is withdrawn."
The DCW has sought a response from the masjid and a report within four days.
With input from agencies