Kolkata cleric Barkati sacked for anti-national statements

Maulana Noor ur Rehman Barkati

Maulana Noor-ur Rehman Barkati, the controversial Shahi Imam of the city's Tipu Sultan Mosque, who had threatened "jihad" and refused to take off the beacon from his vehicle, was on Wednesday sacked from the post.

Noor -ur Rehman Barkati was an influential figure who owed his clout to the proximity with chief minister Mamata Banerjee. "He will be removed by the trustee board not only for his threats of "jihad against India" and refusal to remove the red beacon from his vehicle, but also for insubordination and subversive activities", Ali told Mirror.

In the notice of termination presented by trustee board member Arif Ahmed at a presser here on Wednesday, it was stated despite being twice asked to provide explanation for his provocative remark the cleric had failed to respond indicating that the allegations against him were true.

Barkati was appointed as the Pesh Imam of Tipu Sultan mosque in 1988 and had issued fatwas against writers Taslima Nasreen and Salman Rushdie and most recently against Canadian columnist Tarek Fatah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Maulana Sharafat Abrar Qasmi Dinajpuri, the convener of Tahaffuz- E- Masjid Committee, said: "Barkati should be dealt with legally if he sticks to his claim of not vacating the Imam's offices even after his termination".

Elected in 1989, Barkati headed the mosque for 28 years was mired in many controversies due to his comments regarding waging a "jihad" if India was declared a Hindu state or refusal to remove the red beacon from his vehicle.

Shahi Imam is designated to administer namaz to royal families.

Barkati, who had always been in the political limelight and had sided with the Trinamool Congress had joined various meetings and rallies along with Mamata both before she became the chief minister and after. The Imam of Jama Masjid in Delhi was appointed by the Mughal dynasty. There are complaints that say that the Imam Barkati has misused the place for personal gains. I just want the law to take its course. Imam is a community head. I will continue as imam of this mosque.

Another BJP leader Dilip Gosh expressed similiar views and said, "It is unfortunate since Imam is a religious figure. I have her backing", he said.

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