In a significant development, the Pir Makhdum Saheb Charitable Trust (PMSCT) -- which runs the famed Hazrat Makhdum Fakih Ali Mahimi Dargah in Mahim -- has refuted the contentions of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray of a purported 'mazar' on the islet in the Arabian Sea off Mahim.
PMSCT Managing Trustee Suhail Yacub Khandwani categorically stated that "there is no 'mazaar' as claimed by Raj Thackeray".
"The dargah (mausoleum) of Pir Makhdum Saheb is this one (in Mahim), which is 600 years old... What is there on the islet is just a 'chilla' (platform), where the Pir Saheb used to go for studies with his teacher. The BMC today demolished only some illegal objects there, the 'chilla' remains untouched," declared Khandwani.
He pointed out that there's a similar 'chilla' inside the Mahim Police Station but people do not have access there, so they go to the other platform which is visible and accessible only during low tide.
Moreover, the 'chilla' belongs to a different trust but devotees from all religions who flock to the Mahim Dargah also visit there to pray and offer their respects to Pir Saheb's teacher.
"Raj Thackeray should be aware of all this since he and his family also come to pray here. What he said yesterday pertained to certain unauthorised construction coming up there which has been demolished and we fully support the action. The 'chilla' is intact and still standing there," Khandwani pointed out.
Former Chief Minister and Shiv Sena (UBT) President Uddhav Thackeray, when asked about his estranged cousin's allegations willy-nilly hinting that the alleged 'mazaar' came up during his tenure (as CM), laughed off the contentions.
"That's a very old site. He (Raj) has merely read out the script given to him," Uddhav Thackeray said dismissively.
Earlier, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) state President and MP Syed Imtiaz Jaleel backed the BMC's action of razing the illegal 'dargah' coming up in the Arabian Sea off Mahim, but questioned the motives of Raj Thackeray and the ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party behind the act.
On his part, Khandwani said that if the concerned authorities had informed them about the alleged activities around the 'chilla', they would have contacted the other trust and got it removed, "gracefully and without all this ruckus".
It may be recalled that at his Gudi Padwa rally late on Wednesday, the MNS chief ignited a major row claiming that an illegal 'dargah' was coming up in the Mahim sea, around 100 metres from the coast.
Roaring at the rally, Raj Thackeray gave a month's deadline to the state government, BMC Commissioner and Mumbai Police Commissioner to remove it, failing which his party would erect a Ganpati Temple at the same spot.
He also hinted at possible security ramifications of the site - Mumbai suffered two terror strikes (March 12, 1993 and November 26, 2008) with the attackers and their ammunition sneaking into the city through the Arabian Sea route -- triggering jet-speed movement on the part of the authorities.
After hectic overnight activities, the Mumbai Collectorate issued the razing order to a demolition team, which was assisted by the Mumbai Police and BMC, which went there during the morning low-tide to bulldoze the alleged structure.
BMC officials have made it clear they had nothing to do with the purported structure as it was situated in the Arabian Sea and so came under the purview of the Collectorate.
Taking a swipe at Raj Thackeray for raising the issue and the promptness of the authorities for removing the structure within barely 12 hours, Khandwani said if this style is followed always, "then Mumbai would soon become a very clean city".
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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