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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, however, remained defiant and refused to step down.
Soon after the completion of afternoon prayers at the mosque on Thursday, a scuffle ensued between Barkati’s supporters and protesters. In the midst of it, Barkati was hit on the head, said sources. Later, Barkati told mediapersons: “The protesters were outsiders… serving some vested interests. A pious Muslim can never assault an Imam. The protesters were all outsiders and it is possible that they were appointed by RSS.” Heavy police force has been deployed around the mosque.
Meanwhile, Tahaffuz- E- Masjid Committee — the biggest association of mosque committees in West Bengal, 494 in number — demanded legal action against Barkati if he does not vacate the Imam’s office within the stipulated deadline of seven days from the day of his termination.
Maulana Sharafat Abrar Qasmi Dinajpuri, the convener of Tahaffuz- E- Masjid Committee, said: “Barkati should be dealt with legally if he sticks to his claim of not vacating the Imam’s offices even after his termination.”
“If he has some self-respect, he should vacate the office without inviting legal action against him. His anti-national comments has embarrassed the entire committee. He has insulted the post of Imam by openly speaking for a particular party. He is an Imam for all namazis of different political beliefs. If he wants to enter into active politics he must step down as an Imam,” Abrar told mediapersons.
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.”
On January 7, Barkati had issued a fatwa against the PM, offering a reward of Rs 25 lakh to anyone who would “cut off his beard, shave his head and smear him with black ink”.