ibnlive » India

Dec 29, 2006 at 04:14pm IST

Pune jewellers lift ban on burqa

Mumbai: Maharashtra jewellers have decided to remove the restriction on the entry of burqa-clad customers into their shops.

The Jewellers' Association's demand that veiled women be barred from entering shops had invited sharp reaction from the Muslim clerics, who had even called for a boycott of the shops that imposed restrictions on the entry of veiled women.

The Saraf Association of Jewellers said they have decided to take back the decision as it seemed to hurt religious sentiments. "If our decsion hurts religious sentiments then we take back our decision," Fattehchand Ranka, President of Maharastra Saraf Association, said.

JEWEL THEAF? Maharashtra jewellers had sought a veil ban to deal with the 'menace' of robberies by burqa-clad customers.

The decision was taken following widespread criticism of the ban. Members of the association met the Pune deputy collector and the police commisioner on Friday, seeking their help to control the spurt in the number of incidents of thefts at jewellery shops in Pune.

Many jewellery shops in the city were closed on Friday to support the protest against thefts. "We had done this for security reasons, because four cases of theft had happened in the past couple of days. But if it hurts the sentiments of a religious community directly or indirectly, then we will not take such an initiative," Ranka said.

The jewellers' body had earlier sought permission from the police to bar customers sporting veils from entering jewellery shops to deal with the 'menace' of an increase in robberies by burqa-clad customers. While the police have refused to give such permission to the jewellers, the traders have said the burqa-clad customers should at least allow themselves to be photographed in CCTV.

Various Muslim bodies have opposed the move head on, saying they would boycott outlets that implemented such a restriction. Muslim clerics and the leading seminary Darul Uloom Waqf Deoband have opposed the move, saying it could create tension. The jewellers' body claimed the move was aimed at preventing thieves clad in burqas entering shops.