Parsis baffled about being embroiled in Haji Ali controversy after AIMIM dares firebrand activist to enter fire temple
Haji Ali Sabke Liye or Haji Ali for All, a group of activists fighting for equality of men and women’s access to the Haji Ali dargah, (women are not allowed in the inner sanctum) had recently removed marquee name, Trupti Desai from their support group. The Haji Ali for All forum stated that Desai’s high-octane antics especially the one on April 28, when she went against the forum line saying that she would attempt to enter the dargah, instead of standing outside in a designated spot and creating awareness, were detrimental to their campaign.
Activist Trupti Desai praying at the dargah yesterday. Pic/PTI
That explained why Desai went sans Haji Ali Sabke Liye forum, to the dargah yesterday at 6 am, accompanied by few of her supporters and policemen. She entered but did not breach the inner sanctum, just till where the women were allowed.
She said of her attempt, “Yesterday, was a peaceful entrance, and the first step of the andolan. I prayed at the dargah that the status be reverted to 2011, when ladies could enter the inner sanctum. There is a belief that when people ask for ‘dua’ here, it is granted. I wish the trustees also get more brains and see the light.”
Desai claimed that they have given the trustees a fortnight to reverse the rule disallowing women, “if it does not happen then the Bhumata Brigade (her group) will take to the streets,” she said reverting to vintage Desai speak.
When told that some activists stated that a Muslim woman should be the ‘face’ of Haji Ali protests and not Desai, the Pune firebrand said, “Muslim women need to step forward. I will step back, let a Muslim woman be the face of the protest.”
Haji Ali Dargah trustee, Suhail Khandwani said, about the 15 day ultimatum, “We will not succumb to her threats, if she tries to enter the 'mazhar' we have systems in place to stop her at any time of the day.”
A little after Desai prayed at Haji Ali, All India Majlis-e-Ittahadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Haji Rafat Hussain, dared Desai to try and enter a Parsi fire temple. “Then, we will know if she is fighting for justice or equality,” he stated. Hussain’s dare is puzzling, as women are allowed in a Parsi temple, non-Parsis (of both genders) are barred.
The Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP) was startled to be drawn into the controversy. “It is most unexpected,” claimed a baffled BPP chairman, Yazdi Desai. The BPP trustees said, collectively, “We, Parsis are a miniscule community respected by all our sister communities, who hold us in high regard. We hope and pray that our ancient beliefs and traditions will continue to be respected by all.”
Sajid Supariwala, vice president, of the Mumbai division of the Indian Union Muslim League said of Desai’s entry, “This is a publicity stunt. If she continues to challenge us and play politics over religion, we will be stop her, like we did on April 28. Last time, she was unable to come out of her car and was publicly ridiculed. We are sure of the security of the ‘mazhar’ and know she will never be able to enter.”
Inputs by Maleeva Rebello