Five associations of imams in West Bengal Tuesday said they will move the Supreme Court against a Calcutta High Court verdict rejecting the monthly allowance granted to them by the Mamata Banerjee as unconstitutional and against the public interest. The imams also blamed the state governments lawyers for the adverse verdict.
The lawyers failed to put forward the point that the money was being paid to the imams and muezzins (people who say the azaan,the call for prayers,at mosques) through the Wakf board and not from the state coffers. Instead the lawyers remained busy trying to give the state government the credit for the allowance, said Md Qamruzzaman,general secretary,All Bengal Minority Youth Federation.
He was talking to the reporters after a meeting of the five associations of imams- Bangia Imam Parishad,Jamiyelu Ayemma Al Ullema,All Bengal Imam and Muezzin Samity,Ittehadul Ayemma,Imam Muajjan Committee.
Qamruzzaman also said that the imams earlier used to make do with the donations that came from masses,which stopped after the state government announced the honorarium for them in April last year.
Now,as the monthly stipend would stop coming in,the imams and muezzins will face a huge financial crunch, he added.
He said that the associations would first request the high court to reconsider its decision and then only move the apex court.
If the state does not move Supreme Court against the verdict,we definitely will, he said,adding that more such associations of imams would put up a demonstration on Rani Rashmoni Road on September 10.
A T M Rafiqul Hassan,president,All Bengal Imam and Muezzin Samity said the government should remove encroachments from all Wakf properties across the state and use them to generate revenue.
If that is ensured,a recent study shows that the revenue generated would be good enough to pay 50,000 imams Rs 5,000 every month as against the 30,000 imams who were being paid Rs 2,500 each per month till now, he said.
On being asked that just like the imams,the priests and clerics from other religions may also demand a monthly allowance,Qamruzzaman said it was fair enough. Purohits should be paid out of the income generated from the ‘debotto sampatti and,if need be,we will hit the streets in favour of their demands, Qamruzzaman added.