On Tuesday (2 January), Eknath Shinde, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, addressed the controversial issue of the Haji Malang Dargah. Right-wing groups assert that this site is actually a temple. Shinde voiced his commitment to the "liberation" of this historic structure.
"Your sentiments towards Malanggad are well known to me. It was Anand Dighe who initiated the liberation movement of Malanggad, leading us to chant 'Jay Malang Shri Malang'. However, I must tell you that there are certain matters that aren't meant for public discussion. I'm aware of the deep-rooted beliefs you hold about Malanggad's liberation. Let me say this that Eknath Shinde will not stay quiet till he fulfills your wishes," Shinde declared during his address at the "Malanggad Harinam Mahotsav", a religious event in Thane district.
The Dargah of Haji Malang, situated on a hill to the south of Kalyan, is dedicated to the sufi saint Haji Abd-ul-Rahman, who is also referred to as Haji Malang Baba, Indian Express reported.
In the mid-1980s, Dighe, the leader of the local Shiv Sena unit, initiated a protest, asserting that the structure was actually the site of an ancient Hindu shrine belonging to Nath Panth, under the yogis' command. The Shiv Sena was the pioneer in launching a campaign to regain the aforementioned structure, which they call Malanggad.
The 1882 Gazetteers of Bombay Presidency mentions a shrine dedicated to Arab missionary, Haji Abd-ul-Rahman, who arrived with numerous followers and established a settlement on the lower plateau of the hill. The text suggests that this structure has been in existence since the 12th century.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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