MUMBAI: Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai was not allowed to protest at Haji Ali dargah on Thursday. She was detained by police before she could hold the protest, while Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi, Shiv Sena leader Haji Arafat Sheikh were allowed inside the dargah by the police.
Ms Desai and her colleagues were detained before they could enter the dargah. The dargah is situated on an islet off Worli coast in South Mumbai.
Ms Desai, who reached near the entry of the causeway leading to the dargah with fellow activists, left the spot after a few minutes as protesters from Awami Vikas Party gathered around them to thwart their attempt.
Also, a local AIMIM leader had threatened to blacken the faces of the women protestors. Mr Sheikh had threatened to beat Ms Desai with a chappal last week.
“We have no intention to hurt religious sentiments, but we are against discrimination. We wanted a peaceful protest, but were restricted from doing so. The police did not do anything against other protestors (who disrupted the women brigade’s agitation),” Ms Desai said.
Before heading to the spot, Ms Desai had told the media that she was leading a “peaceful agitation” to assert women’s right to go up to the core area (mazaar) of the dargah.
Expecting a face-off between the campaigners and the protesters, including those from AIMIM and the Samajwadi Party, the police had barricaded the entire area. Some supporters of the campaign also turned up there pledging support for the agitation.
Meanwhile, revenue minister Eknath Khadse told the media that the government would respect the high court verdict that women should not be discriminated against at places of worship.
Ms Desai had recently successfully led campaigns to allow women entry to the sanctum sanctorum of Shani Shingnapur and Trimbakeshwar temples in Maharashtra.
The Maharashtra government had, in February, favoured the entry of women into the Haji Ali dargah. The state government had then said before the Bombay HC that unless the dargah board is able to prove that a ban is part of their religious practice with reference to the Quran, women should be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali....