Delhi’s iconic Jama Masjid found itself under a cloud of controversy on Thursday after it put up notices banning the entry of girls, whether alone or in groups, claiming that there were incidents of “dancing”, “shooting” of Tik Tok videos and making the 17th century mosque a “meeting place” for boys and girls.
The notice, which had no date, came up a few days ago outside the three main entry gates of the 17th century Mughal-era mosque that attracts thousands of devout as well as tourists, sources in the administration said. However, it had come to attention only now.
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.
Masjid PRO Sabiullah Khan told reporters that there is no restriction on the entry of women visiting with families or married couples. He said teams would be deployed that will ask visitors the purpose of their visit and if the reason is not appropriate, they will be asked to return.
DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal said, “It is completely wrong to ban the entry of women in Jama Masjid. The kind of rights a man has to pray, women also have the same rights…Nobody has the right to ban entry of women in this way.”
Another activist Yogita Bhayana, according to PTI, said, “This diktat takes us 100 years back. This is not just regressive but shows what kind of mindset these religious groups have about girls. It is extremely unfortunate.”
In 2019, the Jama Masjid administration had banned shooting videos with music inside the mosque. The administration had also constituted a team of 10 people to catch youngsters making videos and stop them. A 22-year-old man from Bihar alleged that on Thursday his cousin was “denied entry” into the historic Jama Masjid, all by herself or in a group with him and his friend. The man, who hails from Patna, said it is shocking and saddening that it is happening in “My India”.
“It’s an anti-woman, anti-Constitution move. The notices banning the entry of girls into Jama Masjid should immediately be withdrawn,” VHP national spokesperson Vinod Bansal said.
Later in the evening, Shahi Imam withdrew the order, after Delhi LG Saxena spoke to him and requested him to take back the decree. “The LG spoke to me. We have removed the notice boards. But people visiting the mosque have to maintain its sanctity,” Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari said.