SYED NOOR-UR-RAHMAN Barkati, who has been in news recently for refusing to give up his right to use a red beacon atop his car, is set to be sacked as the Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque in Kolkata. Shahzada Anwar Ali Shah, the head of the mosque’s board of trustees, said they are at the final stage of discussing the matter with their lawyers. “Probably, the announcement of his termination will be made at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Through his anti-national comments, he has done disservice to the nation and the community… in reality has encouraged fundamentalist forces like RSS. He has betrayed our community… Hence, we feel that he has no right to continue as the Imam of the mosque,” he added.
Shah said Barkati has also been accused of misusing the mosque complex for conducting press conferences and conducting personal businesses, such as marriages.From issuing fatwas against Prime minister Narendra Modi to state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, to making objectionable statements against RSS, Barkati had hogged the limelight for years in the state. Considered close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, he was seen sharing stage at prominent rallies of Trinamool Congress. However, of late, he seemed to have lost Mamata’s backing following his controversial comments and actions.
Following the Centre’s ban on the use of red beacon in non-emergency vehicles, Barkati had on May 11 said: “I am a religious leader and I have been using the red beacon for the past several decades. I don’t follow the orders of the Centre. Who are they to order me? In Bengal, only the orders of the state government are effective. I will use red beacon. In Bengal, no one has removed red beacon.”
A day later, he had claimed that he would not remove the red beacon “even if Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to”. His comments were criticised by most Muslim leaders and clerics in the state. Siddiqullah Chowdhury, state Library Minister and a cleric, had even demonstrated against Barkati on May 13 near the mosque.
A number of police complaints were also lodged against the Imam in different police stations of Bengal. Later, Kolkata Police officers visited Barkati and the red beacon was removed from his car.
Meanwhile, the wife of Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member and executive editor of Urdu daily Akhbar-E-Mashriqand, Nadimul Haque, has lodged a fresh police complaint against Barkati at Beniapukur police station. Farah Khan has alleged that on May 15, 2017, a group of men armed with deadly weapons “… abusing me and my husband and threatening our office staff of dire consequences if our newspaper keeps reporting against Noor-ur-Rehman Barkati”.Despite repeated attempts, Barkati was not available for comments.