The All Bengal Minority Youth Federation on Wednesday wrote to Waqf Board demanding an increase in the imam’s stipend and also threatened to launch an agitation if their demands were not fulfilled. This came days after the TMC-run Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) announced stipend for purohits (priests) in Bengal.
“There is a huge gap. The purohits get over Rs 300 a day, while imams and muezzins get a monthly stipend of Rs 2,500 and Rs 1,000 respectively. They should increase the imam’s stipend, or else we will gherao the Waqf Board,” said Md Kamruzzaman, General Secretary of All Bengal Minority Youth Federation.
A KMC official said 49 purohits from crematorium ghats, which come under the jurisdiction of the KMC, have been chosen for the stipend.
A section of purohits alleged that the state government’s initiative of offering stipend to pandits was merely an “eyewash”. “There is no reason for us to celebrate. The government has chosen only a section of Brahmins, that too who stay within the jurisdiction of the KMC. This is completely a political move unless they bring other purohits under this umbrella,” said Subhankar Chakraborty, general secretary of Bagua Bhudeb Chatispati, a Howrah-based organisation of over 500 purohits.
“There are a particular class of Brahmins called Agradani, who perform the eating rituals on behalf of the dead. They are poor… The money is being given to them as financial aid… there is nothing political about it,” said a KMC official who did not wish to be named.