About 50 to 60 Muslim fanatics barged into the ancient temple of Machhindranath perched atop the Malang Gad fort and chanted “Allahu Akbar” slogans to disrupt the ongoing aarti performed by Hindu devotees, a report published in Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana said.
According to the report, on March 28, Hindu devotees were performing the traditional aarti (Hindu religious ritual of worship) when scores of Muslims entered the Machhindranath temple and tried to disrupt the proceedings. The enraged mob shouted slogans of “Allahu Akbar” and shoved around Hindus in the temple, in an attempt to stop them from performing their annual tradition.
The video of the scuffle has now gone viral on the internet. In the video, scores of Muslims could be seen intimidating the Hindu devotees against performing their rituals while shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
Every year, Machindranath’s devotees undertake a religious journey called Magh Pournima Shrimalang Yatra to the Malang Gad fort for paying their obeisance to Machhindranath. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s yatra was cancelled.
But on Shiv Sena’s insistence, Hindus were allowed to perform all the religious rituals at Machhindranath’s temple as per Hindu traditions. As per the government rules—annual bath, palanquin, gandhlepan, naivedya, maha aarti—were allowed to be performed in the presence of 50 devotees including government officials and other dignitaries.
However, this did not sit well with the fanatics in the region and they hatched a plan to disrupt the aarti. As soon as the Hindu organizations came to know about this, they informed the police about it. Police allowed only seven Hindu devotees to enter the temple for Aarti, citing coronavirus restrictions. Just five minutes after the aarti commenced, a violent mob of 50-60 Muslim fanatics entered the temple and shouted slogans of “Allahu Akbar”, asking Hindus to stop performing their rituals.
Hindu organisations complained to the Hill Road police station against the rabble-rousers who had burst into the temple and attempted to disrupt the aarti. However, the police assured that they would only investigate without filing a case. The Hindu groups gave an ultimatum of 4 days to the police to investigate the incident and arrest the perpetrators, failing which they would launch a widespread agitation.
The incident took place at 8 pm on 28 March. It is being reported when the police tried to intervene, the members of the Muslim mob grabbed the collar of the policemen and pushed them. Four people have been arrested in the case so far.
The longstanding dispute between Hindus and Muslims over the ownership of the place
Hindu devotees believe the place is the resting place of Baba Machhindranath of the Nath sect and that the Peshwas had entrusted a Brahmin family named Ketkar to perform the puja there. Every year Hindu rituals are worshipped here, especially on Magh Purnima when a grand aarti is organised.
However, the Muslims claim that it is the shrine of Sufi Fakir Haji Abdul Rahman Shah Malang aka Malang Baba. They claim he came to the place from Yemen in the 13th century.