New Delhi, Nov 24 (PTI) 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".
The administration of Delhi's famed Jama Masjid has put up notices outside the main gates banning the entry of 'girls', whether alone or in groups. As the issue led to outrage in some quarters, the Shahi Imam on Thursday stepped in to say the order is not applicable to those coming to offer prayers.
The notices, which have no date, came up a few days ago outside the three main entry gates, sources in the administration said. However, it has come to attention only now.
The Patna man alleged, "We were told outside the entrance gate that we both men could enter, but not along with my sister. My sister, about my age, tried to enter the mosque premises alone too, but was denied entry at the gate. She feels dejected." "We really wanted to see the Jama Masjid from inside as we like the tranquillity of this place. If the Jama Masjid authorities feel, someone is doing anything inappropriate, then those people can be fined or asked to leave the premises," he said.
"But such blanket prohibition is just wrong. We go for prayers in many mosques, no one has tried to stop us just because we were accompanied with a female person," the man told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
The 22-year-old man said his cousin (sister) has in the past entered the Jama Masjid smoothly for admiring its architectural beauty and religious purposes, but what happened today is "just shocking".
In the past, music video shoots by visitors were prohibited. An old board outside the entry gate facing the busy Matia Mahal area bears the message: "Music video shoot is strictly prohibited inside the mosque".
A senior official of the Jama Masjid administration claimed that those people who may engage in "inappropriate behaviour" are being restricted, and "not all women".
Asked, if a single woman who visits the grand mosque for offering prayers or tourist purposes is being allowed, he said, "One can tell who are genuine visitors, and those who wish to use mosque premises for other purposes." Many visitors, including women and girls, claimed that their Aadhaar cards were being checked before being allowed entry.
An architectural jewel and a very popular tourist attraction, the Jama Masjid is a 17th century monument, originally named Masjid-e-Jehan Numah, was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan.
"We came all the way from Patna to see this beautiful mosque. But, we were denied entry because my cousin was with me. Why should a girl or a woman be treated any less than a man or a boy," the Patna man said.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Thursday asked the Centre and the Delhi government to take appropriate action against the ban on the entry of 'girls' into the Jama Masjid here, calling it gender-biased and a violation of fundamental rights of women worshippers. PTI KND ANB ANB