FPJ Exclusive: Intel Links Uttan Dargah In Mira-Bhayandar To Terror Suspects, Trustee Refutes Allegations

FPJ Exclusive: Intel Links Uttan Dargah In Mira-Bhayandar To Terror Suspects, Trustee Refutes Allegations

Interrogation of terror suspects by NIA and ATS revealed they had frequently visited Sharif Hazrat Sayyed Balleshah Pir Dargah.

Dharmesh ThakkarUpdated: Wednesday, February 28, 2024, 09:40 PM IST
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Sharif Hazrat Sayyed Balleshah Pir Dargah | Facebook

Mumbai, February 29: An allegedly illegal dargah on protected mangrove land adjoining the sensitive Uttan jetty has raised security concerns in the backdrop of radical sleeper cells busted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the  Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in the last few months. The interrogation of terror suspects led the intel agencies to gather information about their frequent visits and stays at Sharif Hazrat Sayyed Balleshah Pir Dargah, Uttan Chowk, Mira-Bhayandar. 

Refuting the allegations, Amjad Shaikh, trustee of the dargah and ex-corporator said, “The dargah has been there for more than two centuries ever since Sayyed Balleshah Pir came and stayed here. Allegations of sheltering anti-national or anti-social elements and destroying mangroves are baseless. The police check post is located nearby. Instead of protecting the heritage structure, the dargah is being targeted only because we are a minority.”

Allegation Of Destruction Of Mangrove Land:

The Sufi shrine has allegedly encroached upon 57 hectares of mangrove land at the confluence of Vasai creek and Arabian Sea. It is frequented by youths from Mira Road, Bhayandar, Thane, Kausa, Mumbra, Bhiwandi and Kalyan. An investigation by the FPJ into its alleged illegal construction revealed that the Mira-Bhayandar civic body has regularly issued several notices to the trustees asking them to dismantle the structure.

Confidential documents accessed by the FPJ reveal that warnings from security agencies about the encroachment next to the jetty with direct access to Vasai creek has been ignored by successive civic and police officials since 2003.

 The alleged destruction of mangroves, debris dumping, building of semi-permanent structures and boarding rooms came up for discussion in the Maharashtra assembly in May 2009. The then Thane Rural police had also filed a confidential report to Thane collector AL Jarad about the security threats since 2003 and asked the administration to take action.

Security Threat:

“Mumbai is just 5km from Uttan jetty by sea. The 1993 landing point of explosives before the blasts at Sekhadi, Ratnagiri can be similarly misused to smuggle arms and ammunition into Thane and Mumbai. Unregulated crowd at the dargah near the sensitive jetty is a major security threat,” reads the October 2011 Thane Rural police report. 

The Mira-Bhayandar civic body had also issued show cause notices in 2016 to the dargah trust after complaints from the Hindu Task Force’s legal advisor Shush Khandelwal. He had objected to the application filed in October 2022 by the trust secretary Abdul Kadir Qureshi to regularise the shrine  and enter the trust’s name in the 7/12 property extract. 

Khandelwal had alleged that the dargah trust officials had claimed that the 10,000 sq ft structure had been there since 1995 but an inquiry ordered by the revenue department proved that it had destroyed protected mangroves and encroached on the sensitive location.

According to Bhayandar resident and BJP Mira-Bhayandar election in-charge, advocate Ravi Vyas, a complaint was filed against the trust with the Police Commissionerate. The state revenue department, taking cognisance of the illegal construction, filed a criminal case at the Uttan Coastal police and registered an FIR in December 2020 and asked the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to submit a report on the hacking of mangroves and dumping of debris. “The illegal dargah is rapidly expanding to construct madrasa and boarding for travellers,” alleged Vyas. 

Vyas has alleged similar encroachment on Mira-Bhayandar reserved plot at Azad Nagar to construct an illegal madrasa and notices served to demolish the unauthorised structure by Anjuman Garib Nawaz Trust. “The High Court and Supreme Court have explicitly ordered that all illegal structures on government land should be demolished and encroachment should be removed,”  Vyas added.

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