Open Letter to Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court by concerned citizens regarding the Imambara administration’s decision to make head cover for women mandatory
Kind Attn: Justice Dhananjay Yashwant Chandrachud
This is with reference to the news report in the Hindu dated 11th March 2014(http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/women-entering-bara-imambara-will-now-have-to-cover-their-heads/article5771209.ece ) stating that now women visiting the bara Imambara, a famous tourist site in Lucknow (U.P.), will have to cover their heads. This rule suggested by the shia community has been accepted by the Imambara administration and this rule has become applicable now. The shia community suggested this regulation on religious grounds.
However, we think that this is not acceptable. Our concerns are following:
· First of all, Bara Imambara, in its entirety, cannot be regarded as a religious site. The mosque next to it can be regarded as a religious site but not the labrynith (bhulbhulayah) and the bowli. Imambara is a historical site and so a heritage of the country not of any particular religious community. So if this is accepted then this rule may also become applicable to most of the other monuments.
· Secondly, while the mosque in the Imambara complex bars non-muslims from entering , the imambara permits and is visited by people irrespective of their religious faith. So such a rule cannot be accepted.
· Third, even for muslim women, we think that hijab and head covering should be a matter of choice. It should not be imposed, women should be given the right to decide for themselves. They are equal to men and have the right to form their own decisions. Such a rule should be seen as a violation of their rights. Infact, some progressive women rights’ groups have already registered their opposition against it.
We believe that visiting of monuments and sites protected by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) cannot be made ‘private’ on such basis with the ‘autocratic’ rules by religious groups. We also believe that equality on gender basis should come first and such rules cannot be made compulsory. We believe that it is against the fundamental right of practicing religion itself as even non hindus and atheists will be forced to enter a tourist place as per the rules of a particular group on religious basis. Moreover, rights of women cannot be ignored and their choice and desire cannot be compromised on such basis.
In view of this, we hereby through this letter, condemn the decision of Imambara administration and hereby appeal to you to kindly intervene in this matter and roll-back this decision to safeguard the rights of citizens.
Ravi Nitesh, Mission Bhartiyam
Devika Mittal, Mission Bhartiyam
Dipak Dholakia, ICAN
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Advocate and Activist
Prof Dilip Simeon
Public Intelligence Project
V Arun Kumar, Political Activist and student at South Asian University
Y Santosh Rohit, University at Buffalo
Niti Deoliya, Ambedkar University
Jayachandran Ramchandran, Civil Rights and Social Justice Society
Saeed Khan Falahi, Human Rights’ Activist
Battini Rao, People’s Alliance for Secularism and Democracy
Akansha Khare, Lucknow
Basu Mithun, Kolkata
Afzal Khan Afridi, Political Activist
Nidhi Srivastava, Jalandhar
Zaid Kamal, Youth Activist
Anil Mishra, Assitant Professor at Haridev Joshi University of Journalism and mass communication
Nidhi Shendurnikar Tere, Senior Research Fellow at M.S. University of Baroda
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