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Activist group demands to demolish the ‘dargah’ that suddenly came up near the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport

Recently, Mumbai administration had demolished an illegal mazar that had come up in Mahim coast.

Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) has written to CIDCO seeking action against illegal dargah on the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) land near the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport. In its letter to CIDCO, HJS termed the illegal structure as a threat to national security. A delegation would meet CIDCO officials on March 29 to demand immediate action against such illegal structures in the city.

While congratulating the Maharashtra government on taking swift action on an illegal mazar near Mahim, National Spokesperson of HJS Ramesh Shinde pointed out that it was not the only illegal structure of that kind in the city. The letter read, “are similar kinds of illegal structures mushrooming as Dargah, Mazars on Govt land.”

Talking about the encroachment upon the hill at Pargaon village, Panvel, Shinde mentioned that the encroachment on government land started around 15 years ago. It has taken the shape of a dargah that poses “a national security threat as this “illegal” structure is adjacent to the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport,” he added.

The illegal structure covers around one acre of land. It has five-six rooms with tin shed roofs. He wrote, “Knowing the strategic importance of Mumbai, the economic capital of India, it poses a high-security threat. Many organisations have written to the police and CIDCO to act immediately against the illegal shrine. “The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has acquired land adjoining the airport”, as per information published in newspapers, the planning agency CIDCO had already served notice to remove the illegal structure. But still there is no actual action taken by any authorities.”

He further informed CIDCO about a possible plan to “gift” the encroached land with an illegal structure to the Waqf Board that would deem it Waqf property. As per the law laid down during the creation of the Waqf Board, once a property is declared Waqf Property, it will always be a Waqf Property despite the legalities. Not to forget, it took the central government over many years to take back 123 properties in New Delhi from Waqf Board that were “gifted” handed over by the UPA government.

Speaking to OpIndia, Shinde said, “It has become a norm to build an illegal structure at locations that have strategic importance. This illegal structure is on the government land close to the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport and thus poses a threat to National Security. If you remember, there were claims about Mahim’s recently demolished illegal structure that it was a 600-year-old dargah. Interestingly, it was not there in the 2018 satellite photographs. How can a “600-year-old dargah” popup after 2018 at such a location?”

Mahim illegal structure demolition

On March 23, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) demolished the illegal construction around the Mazar that has illegally come up off the Mahim coast in Mumbai. Several of the BMC officers gathered at the spot this morning and surveyed the area. The corporation has also deployed bulldozers to pull down the illegal construction around the Mazar. The action was taken after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray threatened to build a Ganesh temple next to the illegal structure if immediate action was not taken. After the demolition, MNS launched a full-fledged campaign against such illegal structures.

The case of 123 properties in Delhi

In February 2023, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs posted notices outside 123 properties in Delhi, stating that they are no longer considered properties of the Delhi Waqf Board.

The said properties include mosques, dargahs, and a cemetery. Before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, these properties were given to the Delhi Waqf Board by the Congress-led UPA government. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad raised concerns about the prominent locations of these properties and approached the court.

Two committees were formed to hear from the affected parties, including a 1-member committee and a 2-member committee comprising a former judge of the Delhi High Court and a retired SDM.

The 2-member committee’s report stated that the Delhi Waqf Board had been given the opportunity to present its case but had not done so within the prescribed time. As a result, the Board was absolved of all matters relating to the 123 properties.

In 2014, the Central government exercised its powers under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 to denotify 123 properties from the land acquisition process. The said properties were to be handed over to the Delhi Waqf Board.

OpIndia’s detailed reports on the matter can be seen here.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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