With surprising alacrity, authorities demolish ‘illegal dargah’ hours after Raj mentions it, leading Uddhav Sena to allege ‘scripted scene’
People gathered on the beach when the demolition was on. Pic/Atul Kamble
A day after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray showed drone footage of it at his Gudhi Padwa rally and claimed an illegal dargah had come up in the sea off the Mahim coast, the state revenue department and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), demolished the structure. The BMC also demolished about 50 huts along the shoreline behind the Mahim dargah.
Mumbai Collector Rajeev Nivatkar said, “I ordered the action against an illegal structure in the sea off Mahim coast. We took action with the help of the BMC and the police.” “First phase of action was taken in the morning before 7 am. The action stopped due to high tide in the morning and resumed in the evening,” said an official. At least 100 officers and staff of BMC were present for the action. According to the police around 200 officers and personnel were deputed for security, including two companies of the state-reserve police force.
“There was a small natural rock platform where saint Makhdoom Ali Mahimi Shafi used to get lessons from his guru. This tapu was registered with the Waqf board in 2007. As per the record, it is around 600 years old. There was no illegal construction. If they claim there is illegal construction we have nothing to do with it,” Suhil Khandwani, a trustee of Mahim Dargah, said.
The MNS put up banners such as this at Shivaji Park about the action taken in Mahim and against an allegedly illegal masjid in Sangli, after Raj Thackeray’s speech. Pic/Ashish Raje
During the Gudhi Padwa rally of the MNS at Shivaji Park on Wednesday, Thackeray had shown drone footage and claimed that an “illegal dargah” had come up in the middle of the sea off the Mahim coast. He asked the authority to take action against it in a month or the MNS would erect a Ganpati temple there.
Asked about the allegedly illegal dargah in the Mahim bay, former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said it was an old structure that was there even when the other party and MNS legislators and corporators were in power. “It seems he (Raj) read a script he had been given. The action was taken immediately though nothing was done in the past. There are so many problems in the state. We can ask him (Raj) to write about them to the government and they will be acted on...,” Uddhav Thackeray said.
NCP leader Jitendra Avhad also claimed the issue was 'scripted'. “Someone told you, you should speak and we will take action tomorrow,” Avhad said, referring to Raj Thackeray without taking his name. “I have a copy of the typed letter of the city collector in which the date of action is mentioned. But the date is written by hand,” Avhad added. Questions have risen as Raj Thackeray concluded his speech around 8.45 pm on Wednesday and the decision for action was taken later on the public holiday of Gudhi Padwa.
The BMC also demolished around 50 huts on the shore behind Mahim dargah. “We have been living here for a generation. We haven't received any notice. On Wednesday authorities suddenly demolished our houses. They should shelter us,” said Faiyaz Sheikh, a resident.
Inputs by Dharmendra Jore