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Barkati May be Sacked as Shahi Imam After 'Anti-India' Comments

Sujit Nath | CNN-News18

Updated: May 16, 2017, 8:48 AM IST
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Barkati May be Sacked as Shahi Imam After 'Anti-India' Comments
File Photo of Maulana Noor-ur Rehman Barkati (TV grab)

Kolkata: Maulana Syed Noorur Rahman Barkati, the Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque, is likely to be removed from his post, thanks to his recent remarks made against India.

Speaking to News18, Co-trustee of Prince Ghulam Mohammed Shah Waqf Estate, Muhammad Shahid Alam said, “We condemn his (Barkati’s) recent statements. Those remarks were highly objectionable. We have decided to remove him.”

“We are in the process of drafting a letter and soon he will be served with a notice regarding his removal as Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque for his anti-national comments,” he added, while alleging that Barkati’s supporters had forcibly taken the keys to the Imam’s office and are now refusing to vacate the premises.

“We have informed the Kolkata police and lodged a complaint against his supporters,” he added.

Hours after the drama, Barkati addressed a press meet and said, “I am the victim of media manipulation. Certain national media organisations distorted my statement and therefore the whole controversy started.”

Barkati had rejected the Centre’s April 19 directive against the use of “lal battis” on non-emergency vehicles from May 1 and threatened to launch “jihad if one tries to make the country a Hindu rashtra”.

On May 12, Barkati had said he would take off the red beacon from his vehicle if the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues were ready to live without security guards. There have been at least three police complaints registered against him in West Bengal

The other Imams and Maulanas however refused to buy his justification and demanded an immediate apology from him.
Speaking to News18, Maulana Qari Fazlur Rahman, who leads the Id prayer on Red Road in Kolkata, said, “The damage has already been done. Whatever he said was wrong and I would like to warn him to not make such comments in the future.”

“Instead of dragging the issue, he should apologise publicly or else we would have to take some legal action. If required we will even issue a fatwa against him as he tried to disturb the communal harmony of Bengal,” he said.

Maulana of Nakhoda mosque Muhammad Shafiq Qasemi said, “Mera Bharat Mahan (My India is great) and anyone who will try to defame it will not be spared. Barkati’s statement has disturbed the entire community. It is unfortunate that he praised Pakistan. For me it’s not Pakistan but Papistan (land of sin).”

“A few days ago he had called me and I categorically told him to stay within limits so that there is no communal disharmony in the state. A person can take a political stand but insulting India will not be tolerated. This is where we were born, this is the place where we live. It is very sad to hear such words from a person like him. The most unfortunate part is that he is not even apologizing for his comments,” Qasemi said.

“Though he claims that he has already apologised for his comments but I have not seen. I have doubts about what he claims,” he added.

Dr N Sabah Ismail Nadvi, Chief Administrator of Jibreel International School, said, “I am surprised that he (Barkati) actually made those comments. India taught us to live together and that is what I am teaching to my students. One should not indulge in such things, we all should concentrate on building the nation for a better tomorrow. Such comments is the big hurdle in the developmental path of the nation.”

Bengal Imams Association and Welfare Trust had also condemned Barkati’s statement. Recently the Trust’s chairman Mohammad Yahya said, “We are Indians first. Muslims in Kolkata will never allow anyone to insult our country.”
“Several Imams across the state are condemning the way he insulted our motherland,” he had said in a recent media interaction.

With Muslims scholars, Imams and Maulanas joining hands, the days ahead for Barkati should become uncomfortable.

Senior ministers in Bengal have already decided to clip his wings to save the party’s image ahead of the crucial panchayat elections next year and Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

Recently, state minister and secretary of Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, Siddiqullah Chowdhury, slammed Barkati and said, “Let him stay in Pakistan.”

“I came to know that he declared Jihad against India and threatened to create another Pakistan. Such statements are against the law and there should not be any leniency in dealing with such persons in terms of legal action,” Chowdhury had said.

First Published: May 16, 2017, 8:48 AM IST
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