A local Shiv Sena leader on Saturday stoked a controversy by saying that Bhumata Brigade chief Trupti Desai would be hit with "slippers" if she tried to enter the Haji Ali Dargah but the gender equality campaigner said that she will go ahead with the plan on April 28.
The Shiv Sena leadership, however, distanced themselves from the comment of Arafat Shaik saying "be it a man or a woman, all have equal rights to enter any religious place."
"If she (Desai) speaks about entering the Haji Ali Dargah, she will be welcomed with a 'prasad' of chappals. She cannot be allowed to enter the mazar at any cost," Shaik told media persons.
"Shaik's comments of hitting Tupti Desai with chappals were made in his personal capacity. This is not the official stand of the party. Our stand is that whether it is a temple or a dargah men and women have equal rights to pray in them," Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said.
"Also, once the high court has given a decision it has to be implemented by the government and the police. Thus, it will be wrong to obstruct a woman's entry into any religious institution," she said.
Taking Shaikh's threat lightly, Desai said no threats will work against her plan and she will stick to it. "No one can issue threats in a democracy. He has insulted women by threatening us against entering the dargah. We will go ahead with our plan on April 28 and not let their threats work with us," she said.
Shaikh's comments evoked a sharp response from the opposition parties, which said that Sena, through its Muslim leaders is putting forth its "real agenda."
"This game of the Sena is well known. First make one of its leaders a scapegoat and put forth its stand through them and then conveniently distance itself. People have understood their real agenda," Congress spokesperson Al-Nasser Zakaria said.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik said Shaik is no community leader and "ridiculous" statements are being made by him to grab media attention.
"He is not the leader of Muslims. He is making these ridiculous comments only to garner media attention. People know he belongs to a party infamous for making anti Muslim comments," he said.