A group of human rights activists, including Trupti Desai of the Shani Shingnapur fame, have decided to stage a “peaceful protest” outside the city’s Haji Ali Dargah against a stricture that prevents women from entering its sanctum sanctorum.
Members of the forum said they will go ahead with the stir at the island shrine even though they are yet to receive permission from the police.
“The peaceful protest will be carried out on the footpath, near a juice centre, outside Haji Ali at 4 pm today,” said activist Feroze Mithiborwala. He said they will make “it convenient for everybody” by holding the protest for only around an hour.
Tardeo police inspector Dyanesh Devede said though the police haven’t granted permission for the dharna, they will not intervene as long as it’s conducted peacefully. “If the dharna goes out of control, adequate action will be taken. But if things go peacefully, we won’t stop them,” he said.
Devede said policemen at Haji Ali will monitor the situation, and no additional personnel have been deployed for the same.
Desai, for her part, said the activists will not court trouble by entering the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine. “It is believed that whatever you ask for at Haji Ali Dargah comes true, and we shall ask for equal treatment of women, “ said Desai.
Javed Anand, a member of the forum, confirmed this. “We will not enter the dargah forcibly. We don’t have any such intention,” he said.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) member Haji Rafat Hussain has, for his part, threatened to “smear Desai with black ink” if she tries to enter the dargah. “We will not tolerate this. This will be an attempt to spoil the environment of Mumbai,” ANI quoted Hussain as saying.
Human right activists and non-government organisations formed a forum called ‘Haji Ali sab ke liye’ on April 20 to do away with religious customs and traditions that undermine gender justice and equality. The 20-member organisation comprises social activists, union leaders and political workers.
Desai had earlier called on Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan to support her in her quest.