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‘Funds for Durga Puja Clubs, Not Imams’: Kolkata Clerics Take Out Protest Rally Against Mamata Banerjee

A section of Imams who participated in the rally justified their demand by comparing it with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s recent decision to pay Rs 10,000 to each 28,000 Durga Puja clubs across the state.

Sujit Nath |

Updated:October 3, 2018, 8:04 PM IST
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‘Funds for Durga Puja Clubs, Not Imams’: Kolkata Clerics Take Out Protest Rally Against Mamata Banerjee
File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (Image: PTI)
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Kolkata: A large number of Muslim clerics from across the state came out on the streets and took out a protest rally on Wednesday demanding an increase in their stipend from the present Rs 2,500 to Rs 10,000.

A section of Imams who participated in the rally justified their demand by comparing it with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s recent decision to pay Rs 10,000 to each 28,000 Durga Puja clubs across the state.

The WB CM had in 2011 courted controversy when she announced stipend to Imams. Opposition parties, mainly BJP, accused her of indulging in appeasement politics for securing Muslim votes.

The rally led by Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, the general secretary of the All Bengal Minority Youth Federation, also requested Mamata to help free several Waqf properties occupied allegedly by some private and government departments.

“Not only are we demanding an increase in stipend for Imams but we also want teachers at Madrasas to be hired through Madrasa Service Commission,” Abdul Rahim, Howrah district president of All Bengal Minorities Youth Federation, said.

“It is unfortunate that several Wakf properties are occupied by private and government departments. Kolkata Raj Bhawan is also occupied and we are getting Re 1 as rent. Is it justified?” he asked.

The rally was supposed to start from Rani Rashmoni Road near Esplanade in Kolkata but it was organised outside Tipu Sultan mosque in central Kolkata after the police denied them permission at the last moment.

“We applied for police permission for the rally. But police turned down our request yesterday. The Imams and Muezzins from several districts took trains to Kolkata and reached here in the morning. Since the participation was huge, we decided to change the venue,” he added.

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