Rights activist Trupti Desai today entered Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah to offer prayers amid tight security, saying her struggle was for gender equality. She however stopped short of entering the inner sanctum, an area that is shut to women worshipers.
“I have prayed that women should be allowed to enter the sanctorum of the dargah, as was the case till 2011… Next time, we shall make attempts to pray there,This is a fight to gender equality at religious places. Today, we witnessed the point where men are allowed and women are not permitted. The dargah trustees must allow women further till the spot where men are permitted within 15 days, failing which we shall protest” Desai told
However, she threatened to launch a protest if the dargah did not allow women to offer prayers till the spot where the men are allowed, within 15 days.
Thursday’s visit to the dargah was a follow-up of the aborted agitation carried out by Desai and other NGOs on April 28 under the banner of ‘Haji Ali For All. In view of a potentially sensitive situation and entry of political parties on the scene, the police intervened and did not permit Desai entry to the dargah. The shrine trustees reiterated that permitting women upto the tomb of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari would be “anti-Islam” and claimed immunity as it was a ‘minority trust’.
The iconic Haji Ali Dargah, where people of all faiths throng, is situated on a small rocky islet in the Arabian Sea, around 500 metres from the Mumbai shoreline at Worli. After a foiled attempt to enter the dargah on April 28, Ms Desai had said that she would seek the support of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat Shaikh had said Ms Desai would be hit with slippers if she tried to enter the dargah. After an outpouring of anger, the Sena dissociated itself from Mr Shaikh’s statement.