Maulana Noor-ur Rehman Barkati, the Shahi Imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan Masjid, removed the red beacon from his vehicle, two days after asserting that it was his “right” to use it. “No, there was no political pressure on me to remove the red light. How will political parties put pressure on me? I am the Shahi Imam and will follow the law,” Maulana Noor-ur Rehman Barkati was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India. The news report, further quoting a senior officer of Kolkata traffic police, said that the Imam had removed the red beacon of his own volition. “I am a religious leader and I have been using the red beacon for decades. I do not 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 the red beacon,” On Thursday, the Imam had said. A police complaint was filed on Wednesday against Barkati for defying the central government’s order putting a ban on the use of red beacon by VIPs.
Narendra Modi government, seeking to put an end to ‘VIP culture’, had decided that red beacons would be removed from all vehicles, including that of the prime minister, from May 1. Slamming Barkati, State Library and Mass Education Minister Maulana Siddiqullah Chaudhary, said “Such an act is against Islam, as it does not support violation of law.”
The use of red beacons, more popularly known as ‘Lal Batti’, was banned by government with effect from May 1. “When I say EPI instead of VIP, the meaning is clear — Every Person is Important. Every person has value and importance. If we recognise the importance of 123 crore citizens of the country, imagine the big strength that the country will have in fulfilling the grand dreams. We all have to do it together,” Prime Minister Modi said, while addressing the nation through ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday.