Maharashtra CM Shinde vows to ‘free’ dargah, shrine trust seeks ‘urs’ security | India News

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MUMBAI/KALYAN: Brandishing his Hindutva credentials, chief minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday raked up a longstanding dispute over Kalyan’s Haji Malang Dargah, saying he was committed to the “liberation” of the centuries-old structure. The dargah trust has for its part requested Thane police for security for its “urs” to be held on February 24.
The site, situated on a hillock south of Kalyan, is claimed by both Hindus and Muslims.While there is a dargah there named after Sufi saint Haji Haji Abdul Rahman Malang, popularly known as Haji Malang Baba and the trust claims it is 800 years old, right-wing groups and especially the Shiv Sena in Thane district from the 1980s has claimed it as a temple of Hindu saint Shri Macchindra Nath. The dispute has been pending in the courts.
Shinde’s mentor and late Sena leader Anand Dighe started the practice of visiting the site every year on the occasion of Magh Poornima and performing an aarti, and Shinde, who would earlier go with his mentor, has continued it since Dighe’s death in 2001.
In a speech at the Malanggad Harinam Mahotsav, a religious gathering, on Tuesday, Shinde said acknowledged the sentiments of the community in this regard. “I know your feelings about Malanggad. Anand Dighe began the liberation movement for Malanggad, after which we all started the salutation ‘Jay Malang Shri Malang’. I want to tell you that there are some things that can’t be said in public. I know that there are beliefs you have inside your heart about the liberation of Malanggad. But I’m saying this, Eknath Shinde won’t stay quiet till he fulfills your inner wishes,” he said.
In a letter to senior state officials, including Thane police commissioner, Nasir Khan, chairman of the Pir Haji Malang Saheb Trust which manages the dargah, stated that the trust apprehended trouble during the Haji Malang “urs” on February 24 and was requesting for security to ensure the marking of the “urs” and maintenance of law and order as well as communal harmony. The letter is not a response to Shinde’s statement but is in the wake of the Malanggad Harinam Mahotsav which takes place every year.
Shinde’s son Shrikant Shinde is an MP from Kalyan, and the CM’s statement is expected to set the tone for Shrikant’s Lok Sabha poll campaign, political observers said. In the Kalyan Lok Sabha constituency, frequent clashes have been occurring between the leaders of the BJP and the Shinde-led Shiv Sena. Local BJP leaders have often confronted Shrikant Shinde in Kalyan, and supporters of the Shinde Sena have been pushing back against the BJP.
Shinde had also visited the Haji Malang shrine eight months ago.

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