Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat Sheikh's comment against activist and leader of the Bhumata Brigade Trupti Desai earns him the wrath of his own party
Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat Sheikh allegedly threatened to beat Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai with a chappal if she tried to enter Haji Ali Dargah, as she has said she would, on April 28. However, the party has disowned its leader’s statement, by terming it as a “personal view”.
Undeterred by the threat, Desai has decided to go ahead with her plan. She has claimed that Uddhav Thackeray, Sena chief, has supported her.
The statement issued by Sheikh, said: “Trupti Desai has announced that she will enter the Haji Ali Durgah on April 28 which has created a negative reaction in the Muslim community. If Desai tries to enter the Dargah, she will be beaten with a chappal.”
Desai and Bhumata Brigade spearheaded the mission to allow women entry into Ahmednagar’s Shani Shingnapur temple. This was met with success on April 8.
Almost immediately Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe spoke in support of Desai, and said that the party stand has always remained in their favour. “This is his personal stand, not that of the party’s, and this has been relayed to him as well. Be it a temple or a mosque, both should be treated equally. Men and women should be given equal rights at any religious venue. The court has also given its clear verdict on the issue that women should get equal opportunity to worship. The state government should provide protection in this case,” Gorhe said.
Women were barred from entering Haji Ali Durgah in 2011. “This is discrimination and our fight is against it. We will not bow down before any pressure. We have Thackeray’s support and Sheikh has fallen alone in his own party. Instead of fighting for women’s rights, he is against us. We have formed a forum called Haji Ali Sab Ke liye. We will sit outside the gate and protest in a non-violent form. We want him to apologise,” Desai said.
Sheikh remained unavailable to confirm the authenticity of the letter. However, mid-day is in possession of the letter that has been circulated on social media.