Open Letter to Chief Justice of Allahabad regarding the norm of women covering their head in Bara Imambara
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 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.