A DAY after Noor-ur-Rehman Barkati was removed as the Imam of Kolkata's Tipu Sultan Masjid by the mosque's custodian committee, the controversial cleric suffered minor injuries in a scuffle between his supporters and protesters, who demanded that he immediately vacate the Imam's office. Barkati said today after he was told about the Trust's decision.
Elected in 1989, Barkati headed the mosque for 28 years was mired in many controversies due to his comments regarding waging a "jihad" if India was declared a Hindu state or refusal to remove the red beacon from his vehicle.
On the wakf trustee board's termination notice to him, Barkati said, "Who are they to remove me?"
Condemning Barkati's fatwa against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said: "After all, he is the Prime Minister of the country and his chair should be respected".
He had drawn flak for commenting that Muslims would "fight for Pakistan if India became a Hindu state". Barkati had argued that the privilege was granted to the "Shahi Imam" by the British government.
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Speaking at a hurriedly convened press conference just after the trustee board presser, the former Imam blamed the entire episode of his termination on Trinamool Congress MPs Sultan Ahmed and Nadimul Haque and library minister Siddiqullah Chowdhury and said that he would meet Mamata Banerjee after she returns from Delhi. The recent controversy that led to severe embarrassment of the state government and ultimately his removal was his persistent refusal to remove red beacons from the vehicle he travels. The reports suggest that the board is miffed with the Anti-National comments that have brought a tremendous amount of displeasure for the community as well.
Referring to the police complaint lodged against Barkati two days ago for allegedly snatching away the keys of the mosque office, Ahmed hoped the law would take its due course. He is an Imam for all namazis of different political beliefs.
"I have been an Imam for over 30 years whereas the 12-year-old trustee board is only honorary. I have her backing", he said.
Another BJP leader Dilip Gosh expressed similiar views and said, "It is unfortunate since Imam is a religious figure".