TMC MP Ahmed Hassan Imran has been in the eye of a storm for his alleged links with Saradha chit fund company and hardline Bangladesh Islamist outfit, Jamaat-e-Islami. The Rajya Sabha member speaks to Madhuparna Das about the controversy and his links with SIMI of which he was a founder member.
Were you a member of SIMI?
I joined SIMI in 1977. SIMI was founded that year to work for the Muslim community. SIMI was then exactly like Ramakrishna Mission. It used to work like Ramakrishna Mission. We used to organise “Quran path.” I was there in Aligarh when the organisation was founded. SIMI used to organise blood donation camps, set up libraries and collect funds for the education of poor students. It used to work in five to six districts of Bengal. It was a legal organisation then. I was never a member of the banned organisation.
When did you leave SIMI and why?
I left the organisation in 1984. Since it is a students organisation, it does not allow members who are over thirty years old. So I had to leave the outfit. After 30 years, suddenly these issues are being brought to the fore to malign my image and to question the integrity of every minority brother and sister. Nobody can find an FIR lodged against me in any police station in the country.
There are intelligence reports that claim you have active links with the Jamaat -e-Islami group of Bangladesh. What are your links with the outfit?
I never had any connection with Jamaat-e-Islami. The student organisation of Jamaat is Student’s Islamic Organisation (SIO) and not SIMI. Moreover, why should I try to topple Hasina-led government in Bangladesh and why Mamata Banerjee would want that? What interest she has in it? She shares a cordial relationship with the incumbent government in Bangladesh. I have spoken to Intelligence Bureau officials and they assured me that there has been no such report against me.
It is widely discussed that you have your roots in Bangladesh. What is your link to Bangladesh?
I have few relatives in Bangladesh. But I do not have any roots there. I belong to Jalpaiguri district in North Bengal. My father used to work as a tea estate manager at Malbazzar area of Jalpaiguri. I was born and brought up there. I have certificates of primary and higher secondary schools where I studied. I have visited Bangladesh at least eight times. I used to work as India correspondent for a Bangladeshi daily Naya Diganta.
How you are linked to Saradha chit fund company?
In 1981, I with my friends started a community newspaper called ‘Kalam’ . But over the period of time, we were facing financial difficulty in bringing out the newspaper. There is a senior person called Aminuddin Siddiqui who took me to (Saradha chief) Sudipta Sen and he convinced him to take over the Urdu newspaper. In this way, I met Sudipta Sen. He took over our newspaper. There were 26 shareholders and everybody agreed. Since then I met him only four to five times. He used to send money to us through cheques.
You are claiming that you never had any links to Jamaat and you never sent money to them. So, why do you think your name appears in the newspapers in connection with the Saradha scam?
I have been attacked as I am a minority intellectual and I have considerable influence on my community. There is a faction in our community too that wants my reputation to be damaged. I am being targeted. I want to say that I am Imran, but I am not a terrorist.
When did you join TMC?
I joined TMC and became an active member in January 2014. However, I was a TMC supporter since 2008.
What is CM Mamata Banerjee’s message to you?
The party is with me. And Didi trusts me.