Citizens' Issues
Curbs on women at Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai evoke protests

The management of theHaji Ali Dargah, which is visited by tens of thousands of devotees every year, however, said women are allowed within the dargah's large and open premises

 
Mumbai: The city's iconic and religious shrine Haji Ali Dargah has barred women from entering the sanctum sanctorum housing the tomb of the 15th century Sufi saint, a decision that has sparked condemnation, reports PTI.
 
The management of the Sufi shrine, which is visited by tens of thousands of devotees every year, however, said on Tuesday women are allowed within the dargah's large and open premises.
 
"Women are not allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah," said Rizwan Merchant, trustee of the Haji Ali Dargah Trust and also a noted criminal lawyer.
 
"If Islamic scholars have issued a fatwa, in accordance with the Islamic law of Sharia, and have demanded that women not be allowed in dargahs, we have only made a correction," said Merchant, defending the decision.
 
Merchant claimed there are no restrictions as such for women devotees.
 
"They can read their prayers, do namaz and offer shawls and flowers. All that we are requesting to our sisters is not to enter inside the dargah," he said.
 
"The Sharia law claims that no woman can visit a cemetery or a grave," said Suhail Khandwani, the trustee of the Haji Ali dargah and managing trustee of Mahim's Makhdoom Shah Baba's dargah.
 
"We allow women in dargah sharif but not at the astana (sanctum sanctorum where a saint is buried)" Khandwani told PTI. The tomb is in essence the grave of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari.
 
"Most of the women, almost 80% of them, agree with the decision (to impose curbs)," he claimed.
 
But the decision to restrict women from entering the innermost part of the shrine has not gone down plan with a women's group Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA).
 
The group said it will be raising the issue with the Maharashtra government.
 
The decision came to light when some members of the Andolan had visited the shrine in August. After noticing that women's entry into the sanctum sanctorum was disallowed, they surveyed 20 dargahs in the city.
 
"The shrine trustees told us the restrictions were imposed after a woman came inappropriately dressed last year," said Noorjehan Safia Niaz, founder, BMMA, calling the decision unislamic.
 
Erected on a bed of rocks, about 450 metres into the Arabian Sea and off the coast of Worli in south central Mumbai, the dargah has been immortalised by Bollywood in several movies.
 
Sufi shrines are known for an inclusive approach to devotees, but some have started segregating men and women visitors and seven dargahs in Mumbai have banned women from entering the astana, Noorjehan said.
 
"We are writing to Maharashtra minorities minister Arif Naseem Khan, the state minorities commission and the trustees of Haji Ali shrine seeking steps to curb the practice," she added.
 
Asked what steps are the trustees taking to clear their stance, Khandwani said, "We are in the process of organising lectures to explain what Islamic laws mean."
 
Congress leader Digvijay Singh said he is not in favour of the decision and urged Muslim liberals in the country to oppose it.
 
Echoing Singh's sentiments, BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said discriminating people on the basis of caste, creed and sex when into comes to entry into a place is not right.
 
The decision should be reconsidered and reversed, he added.
 

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AEGON Religare Life launches 'Save Guard Insurance' term plan

AEGON Religare's save guard insurance plan offers a choice of two death benefit options, gives an option to add critical illness provision that covers nine illnesses and provides tax benefits

 
Mumbai: AEGON Religare Life Insurance (ARLI) on Tuesday launched a term plan - save guard insurance plan - that provides life cover and at the end of the policy term returns the entire premium paid, reports PTI.
 
"Our research showed that there are customers who are wary of buying a product where there is only a death benefit. Hence, we have launched this plan that gives back 100% of the premium paid at the end of the policy term," company's Chief Marketing Officer and Head (Talent) Yateesh Srivastava said.
 
The plan is just another step in offering a comprehensive suite of protection products, he said in a in statement.
 
The AEGON Religare Save Guard Insurance Plan comes with the option of an in-built accidental death benefit, wherein case of a death in an accident, an additional benefit equivalent to the sum assured is paid to the nominee.
 
The plan also offers a choice of two death benefit options, gives an option to add critical illness provision that covers nine illnesses and provides tax benefits as per applicable tax laws.
 
The minimum age of entry is 18 years and the maximum is 55 years, while the maximum age at maturity is 65, 70 or 75 years for a policy term of 10, 15 or 20 years, respectively.
 
The minimum sum assured is Rs2 lakh with minimum annual premium of Rs2,860. The policy offers terms of 10, 15 or 20 years.
 
The company is a joint venture among international life insurance, pension and investment company AEGON, global financial services group Religare and country's largest media house Bennett, Coleman & Co.
 

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Metros in India most preferred destinations of tourists: Report

While international tourists prefer to visit metro cities, Indians on the other hand prefer Bangkok and Singapore

 
Mumbai: Metro cities of India are the favourite destinations of international travellers visiting the country with New Delhi at the number one spot, followed by Mumbai and Bangalore, reports PTI quoting the latest Hotel Price Index (HPI) report.
 
"Metro cities dominate the top 10 favourite Indian destinations list amongst international travellers. The capital city of New Delhi bags the number one spot as the most popular Indian destination for overseas travellers, followed by Mumbai in second place and Bangalore comes in third on the list," the HPI report said.
 
Other popular metros include Chennai at fourth position, Hyderabad (eighth) and Kolkata (ninth).
 
Goa, the popular beach and party destination of the country, is fifth most favourite destination for foreigners, while Jaipur, popularly known as the 'Pink City', is at the sixth spot. Cochin, a city in Kerala, takes the 10th position on the list.
 
According to the report, South East Asian destinations are popular with Indian travellers going abroad.
 
The great value rates available in Bangkok make it the most preferred international destination amongst Indians, followed by Singapore, it said.
 
Other popular South East Asian destinations in the top 10 list included Pattaya, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Phuket on the sixth, seventh, ninth and 10th positions, respectively.
 
The other international destinations in the top 10 list include Dubai on the third spot, New York on the fourth, London on the fifth and Las Vegas on the eighth, the report added.
 

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