Imtiaz Jaleel for NDTV
Pune, Dec 27: Jewellery shop owners in Maharashtra have decided not to conduct business with burqa-clad women.
The shop owners say that there is no religious bias behind the decision.
The only worry that they have is that thieves may use the burqas to conceal their identity from shopkeeprs and from surveillance cameras. In fact, it's not a blanket ban that has been implemented.
They say that burqa-clad women can come in and shop for jewellery only if they reveal their identity or get their full face recorded in the surveillance cameras.
"We are not able to see their faces. We could see only their eyes and so we have decided not to entertain them in our shops unless they disclose their identity or record their faces in our cameras."
"We have sought permission from the government to allow us to put up display boards outside our shops," said Fatehchand Ranka, President, Maharashtra Jewellers Association.
Rise in thefts
Their controversial decision they say is based on rising theft in jewellery shops. In fact, in this past year, there have 247 per cent more thefts than the last year.
In the past six months alone, there have been 30 major dacoities incurring a loss of over Rs 15 crore for the jewellers," said Fathechand Ranka.
But it's a decision that is bound to be criticized. Barring the odd case, there is no wider statistical evidence to link the rising crimes to burqa-clad women.
"If there is one thief in the family, the entire community cannot be branded as thieves."
"There are better ways to deal with the issue. There could be tighter surveillance or even a woman staff to deal with woman customers," said one woman.
The association has sent a CD that shows a surveillance camera clip of a theft by a woman clad in a burqa to the government to get permission to enforce their controversial step.
They say if they don't get the go ahead, the Pune district jewellers association will close their shops on December 29, and come January 1st, there will be no business with burqa-clad women.