Mumbai: Barely 12 hours after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray’s dramatic revelations of an unauthorised ‘dargah’ coming up in the Arabian Sea off Mahim, the BMC rushed a team there and demolished it, here on Thursday.
A team of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) along with a heavy police bandobast, a JCB and other equipment, swooped onto the so-called ‘mazaar’ (grave) of an unknown person that had quietly manifested on a tiny rocky islet a few metres away from the Mahim sea-shore.
The BMC-police teams examined it thoroughly, removed the flagpoles with green and white flags, other paraphernalia on and around the ‘mazaar’ and then rolled a bulldozer which reduced it to dust.
Earlier, they also discussed the matter with the trustees of the 600-year-old Hazrat Makhdum Shah Baba Radiallahuahhu, Mahim, which offered their full support to curb any illegalities on the islet nearby.
The purported ‘mazaar’, covered with a green cloth, garlands and flower-chadars, used to attract a few devotees who would wade through knee-deep sea-water for a few metres to visit the site and offer prayers there.
The development came the morning after Raj Thackeray pulled the ears of the state government, Mumbai Police and civic administration, and drew their attention to the potential security threat lurking there.
MNS Spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande welcomed the BMC action while state Bharatiya Janata Party President Chandrashekhar Bawankule congratulated Raj Thackeray for highlighting the matter which opened the eyes of the government.
He served an MNS-style ultimatum that unless the ‘dargah’ is demolished within a month, the MNS would go and erect a Ganpati Temple at the same spot.
Hinting at security implications, Thackeray had roared: “The Mahim Police Station is close by, the BMC officials keep moving around there… Yet, since the past two years this ‘dargah’ is blatantly coming up in the sea… Another ‘Haji Ali Dargah’… And there’s nobody to talk about it?”
Returning with his old style of addressing rallies with a visual component — ‘Laav re te video’ (Play that video) after five years — Raj ordered playing a clip, apparently shot with a drone, hovering around and over the tiny islet, clearly showing the ‘mazaar’ that has cropped up in the Mahim sea.
The video showed images of some green and white flags, fluttering on a tall pole and on strings around, a handful of men and women ‘devotees’ paying their respects at the makeshift grave of the unknown person reportedly resting there.
AIMIM questions intention behind razing of illegal dargah:
The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) state President and MP Syed Imtiaz Jaleel has fully supported the BMC’s act of razing an illegal “dargah” which was coming up in the Arabian Sea off Mahim, here on Thursday.
However, he questioned the honesty of the intentions behind razing the ‘dargah in the Mahim sea and said it appeared to be an “understanding” between the ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), just as the holy month of fasting, Ramzan, starts.
“We have no objections if the structure ‘dargah’ was illegal and it has been demolished… But what about hundreds of other similar unauthorised constructions of various communities that keep cropping up all over the state? They should also be dealt with similarly,” Jaleel told the media.
On the ‘dargah’ demolition issue today, he pointed accusing fingers at Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and their “puppet” MNS President Raj Thackeray of acting in tandem to build up passions on Ramzan-eve.
He wondered how, if the alleged “mazaar” on a tiny islet was coming up openly since the past two years, the state government, BMC, Police and elected representatives remained silent, doing nothing to stop it.
“I feel that Fadnavis may have asked Raj to raise the issue in his Gudi Padwa rally, and he would get it (dargah) removed the next morning… This way Raj’s stature would go up before his supporters, and simultaneously the Sena-BJP wouldn’t spoil its image before the Muslim community,” Jaleel claimed.
He raised doubts over “Raj’s real motives” behind raising the issue of mosque loudspeakers just before Ramadan month and keeping quiet the rest of the year, and asking for the Muslim community’s stand on such issues.
“But, what’s his locus standi…? Is he the CM, Deputy CM, a Minister, MP, MLA? Who is he…?” asked Jaleel, who has recently made overtures to the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance of Congress-Nationalist Congress Party-Shiv Sena (UBT).