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After call for ‘liberation’ of Haji Malang Dargah, Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde to visit shrine on Saturday | Mumbai News


Nearly two months after he reiterated his commitment to the “liberation” of the Haji Malang Dargah, which right-wing groups claim is a temple, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will be visiting the shrine in Kalyan on Saturday for the ‘Malanggad Yatra’ organised by Hindu groups.

Shinde visits the shrine every year but this is the first time that he will be visiting the place after his January 2 statement when he said he would fulfil people’s wish to “liberate” the shrine.

“The Malanggad Yatra which was started by the late Anand Dighe will be held on February 24. Dighe had laid down the slogan that ‘Hindus’ administration will be the dawn of the liberation of Malang Gad’. It is with this intent that the CM is working now as well. I would request people to show up in large numbers for the February 24 yatra which will be attended by the chief minister,” Kalyan MP Shrikant Shinde, Eknath Shinde’s son, said.

Haji Malang Dargah, Haji Malang Dargah liberation, Eknath Shinde, Thane district, Mumbai news, Mumbai, Maharashtra news, Indian express news The Haji Malang Dargah in Thane district. (Express Photo by Deepak Joshi)

The Haji Malang Dargah is located on a hill in the south of Kalyan and is named after the medieval Sufi saint Haji Abd-ul-Rahman, popularly known as Haji Malang Baba. In the mid-80s, the local unit of the Shiv Sena led by Anand Dighe, Eknath Shinde’s political mentor, started an agitation claiming that the structure was, in fact, an old Hindu shrine belonging to the Nath Panth, an order of yogis. The Shiv Sena was the first to start a campaign to “reclaim” the said structure, which they refer to as Malanggad.

On January 2, CM Shinde raked up the issue again by saying that he was committed to the centuries-old structure’s “liberation”.

Festive offer

“I know your feelings about Malanggad. Anand Dighe started the liberation movement of Malangggad after which we have started saying ‘Jay Malang Shri Malang’. I want to let you know that there are certain things that cannot be said in public. I know that there are certain beliefs that you have in your hearts about the liberation of Malanggad. Let me say this… Eknath Shinde will not stay quiet till he fulfils your wishes,” CM Shinde said while addressing the ‘Malanggad Harinam Mahotsav’, a religious gathering in Thane district, on January 2.

The history of the Haji Malang Dargah

The Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency which was published in 1882 refers to the Haji Malang Dargah structure stating that the shrine built in honour of Arab missionary Haji Abd-ul-Rahman, who came with several followers and settled on the lower plateau of the hill, was in existence since the 12th century.

Located on the lowest plateau of Malanggad, a hill fort 3,000 feet above sea level on the Matheran hill ranges, the Haji Malang Dargah is revered by both Hindus and Muslims. Chandrahas Ketkar, one of the members of the trust that runs the dargah, whose family has been managing it for the past 14 generations, earlier told The Indian Express: “Anyone claiming that the dargah is a temple is doing it for political mileage… In 1954, the Supreme Court in a case related to control of the dargah within the Ketkar family observed that the dargah was a composite structure that cannot be governed either by Hindu or Muslim law, but only by its own special custom or by general law of trusts.”

The trust has had both Hindu and Muslim members, and while the shrine remains a dargah, Hindus continue to perform aarti on its premises on full moon day.

Patrons of the Haji Malang Dargah observe the ‘Urs’, which is the death anniversary of the Sufi saint, on February 24 when thousands of devotees throng the shrine. During the same time, Hindu organisations also hold a Yatra on Magh Poornima, which falls on February 24 this year.

This Yatra was first started in the mid-1980s when Shiv Sena leader Anand Dighe started an agitation claiming that the shrine belonged to Hindus as it was the site of a 700-year-old Machindranath temple. In 1996, he insisted on leading 20,000 Shiv Sainiks to the shrine to offer prayers.

The then chief minister Manohar Joshi, along with Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, also attended a prayer that year. Since then, the Sena, as well as right-wing groups, refer to the structure as Shri Malanggad.

To avoid clashes, Hindu organisations are allowed to conduct an aarti inside the premises on Magh Poornima. Shinde, who represents the Kopri-Pachpakhadi Assembly constituency in Thane, visits the shrine every year on this occasion.





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