Bhumta Brigade chief Trupti Desai and her supporters on Thursday were detained by Mumbai police while on their way to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis residence and faced protest at Haji Ali Dargah.
Desai and her supporters after being prevented from entering Haji Ali was marching towards Fadnavis’ residence where police arrested them under Mumbai police Act and detained them for almost 5 hours at Azaad maidan police station. They were later sent back to Pune under police custody.
Desai and her brigades after successfully entering Shani Shingnapur and Trimbakeshwar temples and establishing equal women participation in religious activities were hopeful of the similar results at famous Haji Ali, where woman are not allowed to enter main area.
However, a high voltage drama erupted even before Desai turned up at the gates of Dargah.
AIMIM’s Haji Rafat Hussain on Thursday threatened to smear black ink on activist Trupti Desai if she attempts to enter Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah.
While Hussain did not spared the smearing of ink, the staunch opposition from supporters of political parties like the Samajwadi Party, All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Awami Party and other Muslim social and religious organisations foiled Bhumta brigade’s ambitious march.
Police whisked her off to safety shortly after she reached near the dargah, as angry men and women laid siege to her vehicle.
Undeterred, Desai and her supporters sat on a dharna on the main road leading to the narrow 500-metre sea route approach to the shrine situated on the rocks in the Arabian Sea off Worli coast.
As tempers cooled down, Desai and her supporters again approached the dargah’s entrance, but only to be greeted again with full-throated slogans, banners and placards asking her to stop her “political stunts” and leave.
A minor scuffle took place between police and both pro- and anti-Desai groups near the entrance in the evening, following which the Haji Ali Dargah Trust decided to exercise caution and shut the main gates two hours before the scheduled time of 10 p.m.
“All women are allowed inside the dargah on adhering to rules, regulations and traditions that concern respect for religious sentiments. What is the need for her to come in a procession when women have always been permitted in the dargah? But they cannot go to the tomb of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari,” trustee Suhail Khandwani told media.
After having a long-distance ‘darshan’ of the dargah from the entrance — around 500 metres from the shoreline — Desai left, promising to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and demand women’s entry to the sanctum sanctorum for gender equality.
“We have come peacefully, with no intentions to hurt the religious sentiments of anybody, but only to ensure that women are accorded equality to pray at all religious places,” Desai told the media.
Earlier, Shiv Sena’s Muslim leader Haji Arfat Shaikh threatened to welcome Desai with ‘chappals’ if she tried to enter the dargah, while AIMIM leaders warned of blackening her face.