Immolation threats send demolition squad away

Feb 26, 2013, 07:02 IST | Sagar Rajput and Samarth Moray

After HC orders demolition of illegal structures near Dargah Hazrat Khwaja, locals intimidate BMC and police officials with immolation, obtain stay order

The situation at the Dargah Hazrat Khwaja in Khindipada area of Mumbai suburb Bhandup was taut on Monday, as BMC officials arrived on the scene to tear down illegal structures near the dargah. The demolition squad escorted by a police team ran into fierce opposition by the supporters of Waseem-ur-Rehman Shah¸ the Pakistani ‘gaddinasheen’ who is reportedly known for rabble-rousing and a chequered past.

Heavy police bandobast was seen in Khindipada in Bhandup after the BMC started demolishing five unauthorised structures near the dargah yesterday. While some locals climed onto the roof of one of the buildings, a few others threatened suicide if the demolition drive was not halted immediately. Pic/Sameer Markande

MiD DAY had earlier reported that the Bombay High Court had ordered the demolition of all illegal structures close to the dargah premises. But on Monday, the city civil court granted an interim stay order on any demolition. When the civic officials arrived at the site with demolition gear, Shah’s hot-blooded adherents threatened to immolate themselves if any of the buildings were razed. To avert the teardown, two persons climbed on the roof of a chawl and threatened to set themselves on fire, stating that officials alone would be responsible.

Speaking to MiD DAY senior inspector Shrirang Vyasrao Nadgauda from Bhandup police station said, “Looking at those two, an angry mob gathered after which we were held back. A tense situation was created and we considered deploying a larger force to demolish the illegal construction.”

As the civic and police officials struggled to assuage tempers, some locals leveraged the situation to rush to the city civil court and obtain a stay order on the demolition. Nadgauda said, “We haven’t received the order papers but I just had a phone conversation with a local who confirmed that they have got a stay order.” To the fact that the High Court had ordered the demolition of illegal construction in Khindipada, Nadgauda responded, “It depends on people’s perception how they look at the hearing. As per mine, the High Court had passed an order to demolish the illegal construction in the area if it is necessary to do so.”

Shah currently lives in Bhandup, and is locked in a feud with trustees of the Dargah Hazrat Khwaja Mansurul Hasan Shah Kutubul Auliya. The trustees have alleged in the Wakf’s petition in the high court that Shah is trying to usurp the dargah land from them by creating factions among disciples, even though his role in the dargah is limited to that of a spiritual guide.

Advocate Ajit Kenjale, who represents the trustees in the High Court case, said, “The trustees [the faction that follows Shah] whose order of appointment has been set aside by the Wakf tribunal filed a suit in the city civil court and were granted an interim stay on demolition till February 28. The case is slated to be heard in the high court on February 27.”

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