KOLKATA: Controversial cleric Noor-ur Rehman Barkati, the Imam of Tipu Sultan mosque in Kolkata who earned the name of 'fatwa Imam' for issuing series of fatwas and bounties, was sacked by the trustee board of the mosque on Wednesday for threatening to wage Jihad against India if the country becomes a Hindu state.
However, the cleric remained defiant and said he would take the matter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee after she returns to the city from Delhi on Thursday.
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.
The notice added that Barkati also failed to respond to a show-cause notice as to why he should not be removed from the post of Imam, which indicated that he accepted the charges mentioned against him.
“The termination notice has been sent and he (Barkati) is not the Imam of Tipu Sultan mosque with effect from today (Wednesday),” said Arif Ahmed, chairman of Prince Gholam Ahmed Wakf Estate, the custodian trust of the mosque.
The termination notice also stated that Barkati physically abused a co-trustee after issuance of the show cause notice and delivered speeches that could have incited violence. The notice stated after termination of the service, Barkati should not pose as the Imam of Tipu Sultan mosque and should vacate his office immediately.
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.
Though he enjoyed the support of Mamata Banerjee, the Imam fell out with the TMC supremo after he refused to remove a red beacon from his car and issued statements of waging Jihad against India if the nation was declared as a Hindu State.
Speaking at a hurriedly convened press conference just after the trustee board presser, the former Imam blamed the entire episode of his termination on Trinamool Congress MPs Sultan Ahmed and Nadimul Haque and library minister Siddiqullah Chowdhury and said that he would meet Mamata Banerjee after she returns from Delhi.
“I have been an Imam for over 30 years whereas the 12-year-old trustee board is only honorary. They can’t sack me. I will speak to Mamata Banerjee,” Barkati said, adding that he had removed the red beacon not due to police pressure but because Mamata Banerjee had asked him to do so.
Several demonstrations were held by Muslims on Tuesday against Barkati’s comments. Head of the Tipu Sultan mosque board, Shahezada Ali Anwar Shah had earlier termed Barkati as ‘blot on the community'.