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'Boycott shops banning burqa'

The state minorities panel chief ask Muslims to boycott jewellery shops that bar the entry of burqa-clad women.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2006 22:30 IST

The state minorities panel chief on Friday asked Muslims to boycott jewellery shops that favoured a proposal by the Maharahstra Jewellers Association to bar the entry of burqa-clad women, terming it "anti-constitutional."

"I appeal to Muslims to buy jewellery only from shops which have the sign 'Burqa clad ladies are welcome in this shop'," Maharashtra Minorities Panel Chairman Naseem Siddiqui said in Mumbai.

The state government should lodge a case against concerned persons for violating Article 25 of the Constitution, which gives religious freedom to all citizens, he said.

"The commission will write to Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil in this regard. The decision by Pune's jewellers has hurt religious sentiments," Siddiqui said.

Instead of resorting to outrageous measures, jewellers should put in place stringent security measures and employ more female security staff, he said.

The controversy arose in the wake of a call to bar burqa-clad customers from jewellery shops after robbers posing as veiled customers allegedly stole jewellery worth over Rs 15 crore from shops across the state in the past six months.

The Jewellers Association said on Friday it would drop the move and consider other security options.

Eight robberies by veiled persons took place in Pune last month, including three heists where robbers made off with jewellery worth over Rs 10 lakh from the jewellery hub of Raviwar Peth.

First Published: Dec 29, 2006 22:30 IST