UP's bulldozer comes to Maharashtra?

Mahim Dargah trust claims the 600-year old place of worship is registered with the Waqf board. However the BMC demolished paraphernalia in and around the 'baithak' (chilla)

UP's bulldozer comes to Maharashtra?

Santoshee Gulabkali Mishra

It seems that the 'bulldozer justice' of Yogi Adityanath government has been repeated in Maharashtra as a worship place in Mahim which is as old as the Mahim dargah was demolished by the authorities early morning today in an action after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray issued an ultimatum.

On Wednesday Raj Thackeray in his rally had said that the said baithak was being built illegally in the Arabian Sea and warned that the MNS would build a Ganpati temple at the same place if it wasn't razed soon.

The development came after Raj Thackeray pulled warned the state government, Mumbai Police and civic administration, and drew their attention to the potential security threat lurking there.

Raj Thackeray reportedly said that the 'baithak' should be removed or a Ganesh Temple could come at the spot soon. Thackeray alleged that the structure has come up in past two-years .

A senior Photojournalist on the condition of anonymity said , "In the year 2006

thousands had thronged Mahim beach all day to taste the sea water that had ''turned fresh'' on Friday evening. I had photographed this 'baithak' ( chilla) then and was told by residents that it is about 600 years old. The claim made by Raj Thackeray that this structure has cropped up in recent  years is very baseless. "

Taking cognisance of the video that surfaced on social media the Mumbai Collector constituted a six-member team to inspect the spot and remove the alleged illegal encroachment in Mahim. Following this  the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday demolished the area surrounding the baithak in the Arbian Sea. 

Suhail Khandwani, Managing Trustee of Mahim and Haji Ali Dargah told National Herald,  "The structure was not a dargah but a "chilla" where people offer prayers. The unauthorised structure is demolished but the chilla is still intact. Our primary concern was with our chilla. It (demolition) would have happened gracefully if authorities had told us that it needs to be removed. Unnecessary commotion was not needed. It is an almost 600-year old structure and people offer prayers here. 

Khandwani added, " it is registered as a 'baithak'( Chilla ) with Waqf board from 2007. It is very much a legal worship place for people."

According to the report a team of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) along with heavy police bandobast, a JCB and other equipment, swooped onto the so-called 'baithak' (Chilla ) of an unknown person that had manifested on a tiny islet a few metres away from the Mahim sea-shore. The teams from the BMC examined it thoroughly, removed the flagpoles with green and white flags, other paraphernalia on and around the 'baithak' (chilla) and then rolled a bulldozer which reduced it to dust.

The purported 'baithak', covered with a green cloth, garlands and flower-chadars, used to attract a few devotees who would wade through knee-deep sea-water for a few metres to visit the site and offer prayers there. 

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