After a group of around 100 women and social activists entered the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah earlier on November 29, Bhumata Brigade activist Trupti Desai and others are set to visit the holy place today. “It is a historic victory for the movement. Our demand was not wrong. We were not against any religion. We will be entering Haji Ali today. It was a historic victory for women and I am sure there will be no problem,” Desai told ANI.
After a series of legal battles that lasted for five years, the women activists entered the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali Dargah on November 29. Prior to 2011, the Dargah did not discriminate against women and allowed free entry of people across religions. However, in March 2011, the dargah’s board of trustees imposed a ban on women’s entry calling it a “grievous sin”.
On October 24, the Haji Ali Dargah Trust had told the Supreme Court that it was ready to implement the Bombay High Court’s order to allow women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine located in South Mumbai and had sought four weeks for infrastructural changes to make arrangements for it.
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur heard the Haji Ali Dargah Trust’s plea challenging the Bombay High Court’s ruling to provide equal rights of entry to both women and men in the dargah’s sanctum sanctorum.
On August 26, the Bombay High Court held that the ban imposed by the trust, prohibiting women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah, contravened Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution and said that women should be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum like men. Noorjehan Fiaz and Zakia Soman, founders of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), had filed a petition against the ban in the Bombay High Court , calling it unconstitutional.