Syed Noor-ur Rahman Barkati, who has been in the news for issuing a fatwa against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and refusing to refrain from using red beacon on his car, was on Wednesday sacked as Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque. Arif Ahmed, one of the members from the mosque’s board of trustees, confirmed the development to news agency PTI.
“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,” Shahzada Anwar Ali Shah, the head of the mosque’s board of trustees, said on Tuesday.
Anwar Ali Shah also said that the cleric had been accused of using the mosque’s premises for conducting personal businesses like marriage or for events like press conferences. From allegations of misusing the mosque complex to making objectionable statements against the RSS, Barkati has been in news for quite some time. He was often spotted at Trinamool rallies and was said to be close to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. However, of late, he seemed to have lost that backing due to his controversial remarks.
Barkati had also objected to the Centre’s ban on the use of red beacons. “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,” he was quoted as saying. He also said he would not remove the red beacon “even if Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to.” Kolkata Police officers later visited Barkati and the red beacon was subsequently removed from his car.
Criticism came in from several quarters following his controversial comments. Siddiqullah Chowdhury, state Library Minister and a cleric, had even held demonstrations against him near the mosque on Saturday. Besides this, a number of police complaints had also been registered against him.
In the past, Barkati has said that if any Muslim joins or works for RSS and BJP, they will be ousted from the Muslim community and beaten up. He also said those who chant “Jai Sri Ram” outside mosques are “hijras” (eunuchs). On January 7, Barkati had also issued a fatwa against the Prime Minister and offered a reward of Rs 25 lakh to anyone who would “cut off his beard, shave his head and smear him with black ink”.