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PM Modi urged to stay away from Bohra Priest Syedna's Indore event

Thursday September 13, 2018 8:41 PM, News Network

Bohra Leader Meeting Modi

[The Religious Head of the Dawoodi Bohra Community Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this file photo.]

Mumbai: Activists leading reformist movement within Bohra community have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to attend Dawoodi Bohra Chief Priest Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin's Muharram event to be held in Indore on Friday.

According to reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to meet Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin at a mosque in Indore on September 14, officials said on Monday. Modi will meet Saifuddin at the Saifi Nagar mosque in the city where the head of the Dawoodi Bohra community will hold a 9-day Muharram discourse starting September 12.

Modi is also likely to address members of the community gathered at the mosque after his meeting with Bohra community chief.

However, Prime Minister Modi's reported scheduled plan has angered the activists who want the former to re-consider his decision to meet the controversial Bohra chief and address the community.

"India is a secular country and the Prime Minister of the country should refrain from participation in any religious programme of a sectarian group, particularly when the High Priest in question is authoritarian and encroaches on the democratic rights of the members of the community guaranteed by the Constitution of India", Irfan Engineer, Vice President of Central Board of Dawoodi Bohra Community said in an open letter addressed to PM Modi.

"Using the threat of social boycott (termed as Baraat within the community), the High Priest dictates what the members of the community must not read, must not express, occupation they must not pursue and issues edicts as to whom they should vote for", he added.

"Those who do not follow his diktats are socially ostracised. Your presence Mr. Prime Minister would encourage the High Priest, make him appear more powerful. It will convey a wrong message that the Prime Minister supports such practices", he said.

"The High Priest forcibly administers oath of allegiance to him called Misaaq when member of the community is 12 or 13 years old. This oath of allegiance is charter of slavery and worst through which the follower pledges that the High Priest is the owner of the all the properties, body, mind and soul of every Bohra. The member giving the oath pledges that s/he would physically attack and loot the property of any person whom he is commanded to by the High Priest", Irfan Engineer said.

"The practice of social boycott and the text of the oath of allegiance are well documented in the Nathwani Commission Report. We are attaching a copy of the report for your kind perusal. Your presence in the programme will convey that you support such charters of slavery which are against the Constitutional morality", he added.

"The High Priest asks male members of the community to treat their women family members as their chattels. He discourages educating women in the family and from earning their livelihood. He has issued instructions that all girl children in the community should undergo Female Genital Mutilation when they are seven years old, a practice strongly discouraged by UN and international bodies and at times even harmful to the mental and physical health of the female child", Irfan Engineer said in his letter.

"All these practices go against your Governments programme of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”. Your presence alongside the High Priest will convey contrary signals to “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”", he said.

"There is a dispute between two claimants for the post of High Priest after the sad demise of the 52nd incumbent who occupied the post – Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin. Besides Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the other claimant is Syedna Taher Fakhruddin", he said.

"The matter is sub-judice and pending before the Bombay High Court. Your participation in the High Priests’ event would covey a wrong signal that the Prime Minister of the Country indirectly recognizes one claimant for the post over the other. The state should keep its distance from both the claimants to the post", he said.

"The High Priest, it is well known, is a school dropout. He has been made Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. One fails to understand on what qualification, criteria and basis a school dropout can be appointed as Chancellor of such an eminent Central University", he said.

"On consideration of all the above grounds, we urge you not to participate in any event organized by the High Priest of Dawoodi Bohra Community", Irfan Engineer said.

Modi reportedly has a special connection with the Bohra community and has said to have visited its functions in the past when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. The Bohra community had reportedly supported the BJP in the last and earlier elections.

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